Cassie and Molly's law would allow more punishment when a pregnant woman is harmed
'Criminal Code requires crucial reforms to ensure violent criminals are held accountable,' MP says
A Saskatchewan MP has tabled legislation that, if passed, would "make it a separate offence to cause injury or death to a pre-born child during the commission of an offence against the child's mother."
- MP calls it 'social injustice' fetus isn't homicide victim
- Kaake case prompts Windsor lawyer to call for change
Conservative Cathay Wagantall introduced the private member's bill Tuesday in the House of Commons in Ottawa.
The short name of Bill C-225, an act to amend the Criminal Code, is Cassie and Molly's Law.
It's named after Cassandra Kaake, who was seven months pregnant when she was found dead at the scene of an arson in Windsor, Ont., in 2014. She had planned to name her child Molly.
Matthew Brush was charged with first-degree murder. His case is now before the courts.
In a news release, Wagantall said she was motivated to introduce the legislation after learning about the story of Kaake, Molly and Jeff Durham, the father-to-be.
Durham has been calling for a change to the Criminal Code since the homicide, and started the Molly Matters campaign as part of that effort.
"Without a shadow of a doubt, neither Cassie nor any pregnant victim of homicide would want their children ignored," he said in the same news release issued by Wagantall.
Punishable by imprisonment
According to the bill, "every person who, while committing or attempting to commit an offence under this act against a female person that the person knows is pregnant, directly or indirectly causes the death of her preborn child:
- (a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable
- (i) if the person means to cause injury or death to the preborn child or injury to the mother that the person knows is likely to cause the preborn child's death, and is reckless as to whether death ensues or not, to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of 10years,
- (ii) if the person shows wanton or reckless disregard for the life or safety of the preborn child, to imprisonment for life, or
- (iii) in any other case, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years; or
- (b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 18 months.
Durham has submitted petitions to the federal government with more than 15,000 signatures showing support for his campaign.
He previously met with a number of NDP MPs in the Windsor region to discuss the issue.
"We are grateful to our local NDP representatives in Windsor and Essex for taking the time to consider our plight and acknowledging that this is an issue that transcends party politics," Durham said in a news release issued by Wagantall.
Durham had been trying to revive Bill C-484, a Conservative private member's bill that called for the changes he wants to see. That bill, though, failed to receive support before the 2008 federal election.
Opposition to bill
In 2008, the proposed legislation drew the opposition of some pro-choice groups that saw it as an attempt to erode the rights of pregnant women. The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada said the bill demonstrated a Conservative government's anti-abortion hidden agenda. Quebec's Federation of Specialist Doctors also opposed the previous bill.
Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse had not been a supporter of Bill C-484, saying it had legal issues that didn't make it a "viable" option. But after meeting with Durham earlier this year, he said he's open to making a revised bill work.
Wagantall said in her news release that her bill is focused on dealing with criminals.
"The Criminal Code requires crucial reforms to ensure violent criminals are held accountable for their actions," Wagantall said. "Cassie and Molly's law will create a legal mechanism that enhances the safety of Canadian women and recognizes the safety of their family."
Wagantall drew No. 11 in the private member's bill lottery during the recent session of Parliament. Should the draft bill be approved by the committee that reviews them, Wagantall's bill should be scheduled for debate this spring.
- A previous headline stated the law would allow a fetus to be a homicide victim. In fact, the law would add punishments to people convicted of harming a fetus during an offence against a pregnant woman.Feb 24, 2016 5:22 PM ET