The question of whether to have a debate on when human life begins will face the House of Commons again Friday as Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth's private member's motion returns for its second hour of debate.

Woodworth is calling on MPs to hold a special committee to look at when human life begins. The definition in the Criminal Code says human life begins when a child has fully emerged from the mother's birth canal. Woodworth says that's based on a 400-year-old definition imported from Britain and should be updated.

The MP, who represents Kitchener Centre, Ont., says he doesn't expect to have enough support for his motion to pass.

"Although we have a majority in the House, I don't expect to have majority support for

[motion] 312 at this point," he said of the Conservative caucus.

But supporters of his motion are phoning and e-mailing their MPs, he said. 

"Perhaps that will have a beneficial effect."

The vote on the motion will be next Wednesday.

No immediate effect on abortion

Woodworth says he wanted to clear up some of the criticism he's heard about his motion, referred to as 312. First, it wouldn't change any law, he said.


Kitchener Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth speaks with the media about his motion to study the definition of the human being, during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

"So will abortion become illegal if motion 312 passes? No. The only result of motion 312 will be that Parliament and all Canadians will be better informed," he said.

But better information could mean people change their minds on abortion, he added.

Some of the opposition, Woodworth believes, is from those who believe abortion should be an option.

"There really are people who believe that the only way to justify abortion is to pretend that a child is not a human being until the moment of complete birth. And so they wish to preserve that pretence," he said.

While Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canadians don't want to re-open the debate on abortion, Woodworth says it's okay to have policy disagreements with colleagues.

"I think it would be an immature view of politics to think, because you like and admire someone, you ought never to disagree with them," he said.

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