The Last Weeks of Woodworth: What You Can Do

by Jarrah Hodge

While most of us were enjoying sunny weather, maybe hitting up the beach or lounging on patios if we were lucky, MP Stephen Woodworth was lobbying hard for his Motion 312, which would require a special Parliamentary committee to review the definition of “human being” in Subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada to determine if it should be extended to include fetuses.

Although Woodworth has gone to great lengths to try to persuade moderates and progressives that his motion is about having a scientific debate, not primarily about restricting abortion rights, it’s clear he’s talking out of both sides of his mouth (that’s the nicest way I can think of to put it).

Dammit Janet received and published a copy of a letter Woodworth is distributing to his colleagues begging them to support M-312, in which he states:

I am enclosing a copy of Subsection 223(1), the law which is the sole focus of Motion 312. You will see that Subsection 223(1) is a 400 year old law which decrees the dehumanization and exclusion of an entire class of people we know to be human beings, namely, children before the moment of complete birth.

This is a direct assault upon the principle of universal human rights, which insists that every human being has an inherent worth and dignity which the state must recognize rather than merely a value assigned by others based on the utility or inconvenience of that human being.


Laws like Subsection 223(1), which decree the dehumanization and exclusion of an entire class of people, deny the principle of universal human rights. That principle, which asserts that every human being possesses equal and inherent worth and dignity is the bedrock upon which all of other our laws rest.

Dude, we’re not stupid. Fern Hill at Dammit Janet is spot-on when she states: “The clear intent of this charade from its inception has been to close the abortion debate — without, miraculously, opening it — by setting the scene for a law limiting abortion to the period ending at mid-second trimester.”

Woodworth will be holding a press conference tomorrow, the final hour of debate on M-312 will come on Friday the 21, and then the final vote will be September 26.

The plus side is that it’s almost over and we can all take a little breather before the next Conservative backbencher comes up with some similar private member’s motion or bill.

The other positive is that there’s still time to take action, which as Abortion Rights Coalition Executive Director Joyce Arthur points out at Rabble, is necessary even if we think the motion’s passing is a long shot:

Of course, the failures and overreach of the anti-choice movement should never lull us into complacency. One key reason they’re stumbling is because Canada is still a socially liberal country with legal protections for women. But things could change as right-wing groups infiltrate the halls of power in Ottawa[...]The Canadian women’s movement can’t afford to look the other way. We must fight right-wing attempts to erase women’s gains, even if those attempts have little chance of success.

For the record, some pundits, like Chantal Hebert, think the vote will be tight, which means it’ll be crucial to make sure the pro-choice MPs show up to vote. So here’s what you can do leading up to Friday’s debate and the vote on the 26th:

  • Join the notable Canadian women (link to pdf) calling on your MP to oppose M-312. Find a sample letter and email lists put together by the ARCC here.
  • Download and send a pro-choice postcard to your MP or the Prime Minister.
  • Paper petitions must be received by Parliament by the 19th, but it’s not too late to sign the online petition against M-312. Even though it’s not “official” it has symbolic weight and will be presented to MPs.
  • Share information on M-312 and its opposition on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or whatever social network you prefer. If you’re using Twitter, use the #nodebate, #cdnpoli, and #prochoice hashtags.
  • Follow Radical Handmaids on Facebook and find out how to join in or organize one of their events.
  • Talk about this motion with friends and family. Woodworth is trying to make it seem like this is about revising “archaic” laws but you and I know it’s nothing more than a thinly-veiled attack on abortion rights. Don’t let people think M-312 is innocuous.
  • Regardless of the outcome of the bill, North American anti-choicers are planning on holding “40 Days for Life” events from September 26 to November 4. They are planning events in 18 Canadian cities and groups are working to organize counter-protests, called “365 Days for Choice” – join their page on Facebook to find out how to support their efforts.
Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism, Politics 3 Comments

About the author

Jarrah Hodge

Jarrah Hodge is the founder and editor of She has also written for the Huffington Post, Bitch Magazine Blogs, the Vancouver Observer and About-Face. Jarrah has B.A. in Women’s Studies and Sociology from UBC. She’s a fan of politics, Star Trek, musical theatre, and brunch.

3 Responses to The Last Weeks of Woodworth: What You Can Do

  1. Joyce Arthur

    Thanks Jarrah! Great summary of things and nice list of actions.

    ARCC also just put this up re actions to take in the final days:

  2. Pingback: M-312 Goes Down! | Gender Focus – A Canadian Feminist Blog

  3. Pingback: Woodworth's New Motion is Not About Abortion, and I'm the Queen of England | Gender Focus

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