Windsor

MP calls it 'social injustice' fetus isn't homicide victim

Essex Conservative MP Jeff Watson says he plans to approach his colleagues about the issue of changing the Criminal Code to allow for additional charges to be laid when a fetus is involved in a violent crime against its pregnant mother.
Essex Conservative MP Jeff Watson previously supported the Unborn Victims of Crime Act.

Essex Conservative MP Jeff Watson says he plans to approach his colleagues about the issue of changing the Criminal Code to allow for additional charges to be laid when a fetus is involved in a violent crime against its pregnant mother.

Watson's call for discussion comes weeks after a homicide in Windsor included a fetus.

Cassandra Kaake was seven months pregnant when she was found dead at the scene of an arson in Windsor, Ont., in a riding that neighbours Watson's.

Matthew Brush has been charged with one count of first-degree murder in Kaake's death.

Watson said there is "a gap in the Criminal Code."

"This has nothing to do with [abortion]. We have a violent crime that's been committed against not only against a mother, but a pregnant mother, seven months pregnant," Watson said in an interview with Tony Doucette on Windsor Morning.

Watson did not say whether he would officially raise the issue in the House Commons, but he said he definitely plans on speaking with his colleagues.

"I will be engaging members of Parliament of all parties in due course. All parliamentarians need to be engaged," Watson said. "This hasn't reached the Parliamentary radar yet. There's still a challenge ahead to raise consensus across the country."

In an open letter to Watson sent Feb. 14, Jeff Durham, the father-to-be, called for a change to the Criminal Code and asked that Bill-C484, the Unborn Victims of Crime Act be tabled in the House of Commons again.

The Unborn Victims of Crime Act, which would have made it a separate crime to kill a fetus during a criminal act against its mother, passed second reading but died when the 2008 General Federal Election was called.

Watson supported the bill.

"I've heard it rationalized that this would interfere with abortion rights issues. The fact is, it is just wrong to not consider a child at that state of development a person. It is wrong that this aspect of the crime perpetrated will go unacknowledged by those which we put in charge to judge such things," Durham wrote to Watson.

Watson replied to Durham in an open letter. In it, Watson calls it "a social injustice" that two murder charges were not laid.

The expecting parents had already decided on a name: Molly.

Under current law, a seven-moth-old fetus is not considered a person, so two charges could not be laid.

Watson said he felt compelled to write Durham back in the form of an open letter, saying, "this issue has been spontaneously growing out of this great tragedy."

"There's a strong consensus that's suggesting there needs to be in the Criminal Code a narrow change to allow a second charge in the case of Molly's death."

Watson said he applauds Durham for speaking out against the law that allows for just one murder charge instead of two.

Durham called Bill C-484 "a solution."

"And if a consensus can’t be met for that bill, then the wording needs to be changed," he said in an email to CBC. "And if somehow that can’t be done, we need to find another way."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now