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Abortion Should Be Kept Out Of The Criminal Code

1340 words - 5 pages

Abortion Should Be Kept Out of The Criminal CodeAbortion, termination of pregnancy before the fetus is capable ofindependent life. When the expulsion from the womb occurs after the fetusbecomes viable (capable of independent life), usually at the end of six monthsof pregnancy, it is technically a premature birth.The practice of abortion was widespread in ancient times as a method ofbirth control. Later it was restricted or forbidden by most world religions, butit was not considered an offense in secular law until the 19th century. Duringthat century, first the English Parliament and then American state legislaturesprohibited induced abortion to protect women from surgical procedures that wereat the time unsafe, commonly stipulating a threat to the woman's life as thesole ("therapeutic") exception to the prohibition. Occasionally the exceptionwas enlarged to include danger to the mother's health as well.Legislative action in the 20th century has been aimed at permitting thetermination of unwanted pregnancies for medical, social, or private reasons.Abortions at the woman's request were first allowed by the Soviet Union in 1920,followed by Japan and several East European nations after World War II. In thelate 1960s liberalized abortion regulations became widespread. The impetus forthe change was threefold: (1) infanticide and the high maternal death rateassociated with illegal abortions, (2) a rapidly expanding world population, (3)the growing feminist movement. By 1980, countries where abortions were permittedonly to save a woman's life contained about 20 percent of the world's population.Countries with moderately restrictive laws--abortions permitted to protect awoman's health, to end pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, to avoidgenetic or congenital defects, or in response to social problems such asunmarried status or inadequate income--contained some 40 percent of the world'spopulation. Abortions at the woman's request, usually with limits based onphysical conditions such as duration of pregnancy, were allowed in countrieswith nearly 40 percent of the world's population.1Under the Criminal Code. R.S.C. !970, c.C-34, abortion constitutes acriminal offense. Section 159(2)(c) makes it an offense to offer or have forsale or disposal, to publish or advertise means, instructions or medicineintended or represented to cause abortion or miscarriage. Section 221(1) makesthe act of causing death to a child who has not become a human being, in the actof birth, equivalent to murder. Abortion constitutes an indictable offenseunder s. 251 of the Code whenever a person uses any means to carry out theintent to procure a miscarriage of female person, whether she is pregnant or not.Section 251(2) makes any female attempting to procure a miscarriage by any meansguilty of an indictable offense. Section 251(4) allows permission for atherapeutic abortion to be obtained from a competent committee, fulfillingstrict regulations, with the operation performed by a...

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