Many questions have been raised in response to the introduction of Bill C-510, Roxanne’s Law. And we’ve decided to take a crack at answering the most common legal questions posed.
Below we posted three of them. To view them all, download this PDF and have a read.
Will this law criminalize abortion?
This bill will not criminalize abortion in any way. If C-510 is passed, Canada will remain the only developed nation in the world without any abortion legislation. Abortions will remain legal through all nine months of pregnancy. However, for those mothers who choose life, there will be a new protection to assist them in fulfilling their hopes and plans for both themselves and their children.
Why is Bill C-510 necessary if a provision for intimidation already exists in the Criminal Code?
Section 423 of the Criminal Code outlines the offence of intimidation. It is placed in Part X of the Criminal Code, which is titled “Fraudulent Transactions.” The offence was intended to apply to industrial disputes, although the language of the section is broad enough to be accorded wider meaning.
That being said, there are many examples of Criminal Code provisions that focus on a particular aspect of an offence, highlighting it as especially worthy of condemnation. To do this, Parliament has made use of a separate section dealing with the specific type of offence in question.
One example would be the crime of Assault found at section 265 the Code. The definition of assault is intentionally broad, to encompass all forms of assault, and to label such offences as worthy of denunciation.
So, one could ask, “What’s the point of having sections that criminalize assault with a weapon, aggravated assault, sexual assault, or assault causing bodily harm when there is already a section in the Criminal Code that criminalizes assault?” The answer here is the same as it is with the question of a new and separate section for coercion for pregnant women to abort: this is a specific instance and type of intimidation that deserves special recognition and specific condemnation.
Is this law necessary given that there are other provisions of the Criminal Code that could potentially apply? Why be so specific?
There is value in including a specific provision in the Criminal Code to deal with coerced abortion. While it is clear that coerced abortions occur, it does not appear that a single individual has been charged for committing this act. This indicates a need for legislative clarity.
A specific provision is useful, as some women may not realize that certain actions committed against them could amount to threats, intimidation, or harassment as the law currently defines it. By having a specific law in place, it would raise awareness of this criminal act and women would be more knowledgeable of their rights.
The practice of adding additional, specific clauses to the Criminal Code is not new or unprecedented. It is done in order to clarify the law or to identity specific areas of concern. Recent “specification provisions” added to the Criminal Code include the provisions dealing with the incitement of hatred against specific groups, or those dealing with spousal or child abuse.
The questions included in the PDF are the following:
1. Why is Bill C-510 necessary if a provision for 'utterance of threats' already exists in the Criminal Code?
2. Why is Bill C-510 necessary if a provision for intimidation already exists in the Criminal Code?
3. Is this law necessary given that there are other provisions of the Criminal Code that could potentially apply? Why be so specific?
4. Given that there are provisions in the Criminal Code which address threats or other acts, could people then be charged twice for the same criminal act?
5. Will this law criminalize abortion?
6. Is the concept of ‘coercion’ too broad?
7. How would one prove or disprove that an act of coercion took place?
8. According to this bill, a person who removes the financial support from a pregnant, dependant woman who refuses to have an abortion can be found guilty of coercion. Is this true?
9. What are the legal consequences under this bill for someone who commits this offence?
10. How would this change the Criminal Code?
11. Will this Bill threaten the existence or practices of abortion providers or their clinics?
12. What about speech that is uttered? Is this not a violation of the right to free speech?
13. Is Bill C-510 constitutionally sound?