Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) Statement on Bill C-484

    MONTREAL, June 19 /CNW Telbec/ - CFUW calls on the Government of Canada
to take steps to protect women in general and pregnant women in particular
from violence in all its forms. The proposed private member's bill C-484 does
not protect pregnant women and post-partum women from violence and abuse, nor
does it address the root causes of systemic gendered violence. Moreover,
C-484's proposed legal separation of the mother and fetus risks curbing
women's right to determine the outcome of their pregnancies.
    The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that a woman and her fetus are
"physically one person" under the law. CFUW shares the opinion of other
organizations including Quebec's Federation of Specialist Doctors that bill
C-484 risks altering this legal framework and criminalizing pregnant women for
behaviours and conditions not criminalized for other people, such as addiction
to drugs or alcohol. Although C-484 specifically exempts pregnant women from
prosecution, legal precedent in other jurisdictions suggests that these
protections may not be adequate to prevent punitive action against these
    Under the accumulated common law in Canada, harm to a fetus is already
considered an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes. There is no evidence
to suggest that separate codified penalties for harming a fetus will reduce
violence or abuse. Meaningfully reducing violence against women requires
strategies that protect women in all stages of life. The best way to protect
fetuses is to protect pregnant women by ensuring that they have access to
anti-violence resources and support. This approach requires restoring funding
to women's organizations who engage in the vital research and advocacy that
sustains front-line support for abused women.

    CFUW is a national non-partisan, voluntary, self-funded organization of
over 10,000 women graduates who are working to improve the status of women and
girls in education, peace, justice and human rights. CFUW holds special
consultative status at the United Nations (ECOSOC) Commission on the Status of
Women and belongs to the Education Sector of the Canadian Commission to
UNESCO. CFUW is the largest of the 82 national affiliates of the International
Federation of University Women.

For further information:

For further information: Colleen Burns, Communications Coordinator,
Canadian Federation of University Women, (613) 234-8252 x 103,,

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