Author Archives: radicalhandmaids

Great shots from Ottawa event

The following photos are (c)  Garth Gullekson, Darlington Mediaworks


Response from NDP MP Glenn Thibeault

This was sent to us by a pro-choice ally who has asked to remain anonymous.

Thank you for your email in regards to Motion M-312. New Democrats oppose this motion.


M-312 proposes to establish a parliamentary committee to review criminal code subsection 223(1) which states that a child becomes a human at the moment of birth, which is an indirect means to re-open the abortion debate.


During the 2006, 2008 and 2011 election campaigns, Stephen Harper stated that his government did not want to revisit the abortion issue. However, now that there is a Conservative majority—and Stephen Woodworth has tabled motion M-312, there is reason to worry.


The Official Opposition believes in universal access to abortion services and guaranteed reproductive freedoms for all Canadian women, regardless of income or where they live. Abortion must remain a decision made between a woman and a health professional. Please be assured that we will continue to defend a woman’s right to choice.



All the best,





Glenn Thibeault, M.P./Député


House of Commons/Chambres des communes

Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Tel:/Tél: 613.996.8962

Fax/Téléc: 613.995.2569


Response from Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre

A Radical Handmaid received this response from her MP. She has asked to remain anonymous.

Thank you for your message.  I do appreciate your sharing your point of view with me.


Private Members motions are considered in accordance with the rules of Parliament.


The Prime Minister has been very clear, our Government will not reopen this debate.




Pierre Poilievre, M.P. Nepean-Carleton

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities




Response from Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett

This was sent to us by a pro-choice ally!

Dear Ms. Name witheld by request,

Thank you for your email regarding Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth’s motion M-312 on abortion.

As a family doctor, and as Chair of the National Liberal Women’s Caucus, I am opposed in the strongest terms possible to M-312, which aims to reopen the abortion debate – despite Stephen Harper’s promise that this would not occur under his leadership.

It is the longstanding view of the Liberal Party of Canada that women must have the right to choose. We will never support measures that limit, or open the door to limiting, access to safe medical services for women across Canada.

Please be assured that I will not only vote against this motion, but will fight all attempts to infringe the rights of women by those who wish to do so, including Mr. Woodworth. I will also continue to hold Mr. Harper to account for allowing a member of the Conservative caucus to introduce this type of motion without penalty of sanction of any kind.


Hon. Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.D.
Member of Parliament, St. Paul’s


A few implications of Motion 312 that have nothing to do with abortion

We saw this on Rhapsody Blue’s Facebook page and thought it was absolutely brilliant. Major appreciations to them for allowing us to re-post it here. You can connect with her on Twitter @BlueBurlesque

Today the House of Commons will debate MP Stephen Woodworth’s motion to form a committee to “review the declaration in Subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada which states that a child becomes a human being only at the moment of complete birth”, as well as answer several subsequent questions.

MP Woodworth has chosen to market the motion under the title “Canada’s 400 Year Old Definition of a Human Being”, good-naturedly alleging that the law as it stands is simply out of date, and that lawmakers of the past lacked the scientific understanding of human development that we have today.

Krissy Fair [1] has pointed out the inaccuracy of Mr. Woodworth’s assertion that the current law exists because, at the time of its creation, we did not understand that an unborn child was human, in addition to pointing out that the law itself is only 120 years old. The law was written with the understanding that extending the provisions of the Criminal Code to the unborn would have several unacceptable consequences.

Just so we are clear on the text of the law as it stands currently: “a child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother, whether or not it has breathed; it has an independent circulation; or the navel string is severed.” Note the language that specifies the context: “within the meaning of this Act” – that is to say, for the purposes of criminal prosecution.

Much has been written about this motion, and a great deal of it focuses on the abortion issue, as it should.

However, as MP Woodworth so kindly reminded me in a form letter reply that disregarded the entire contents of my original letter* to him, the motion “has far wider implications than merely for the abortion issue”.

It is with an eye to this fact, and in the spirit of Prime Minister Harper’s promise not to re-open the abortion debate, that I would like to present several implications of Motion 312 that do not concern abortion.

We need not speculate on the results of declaring the unborn to be legal persons for the purposes of criminal prosecution. In fact, we may simply cast an eye South of the border, where “personhood” laws have been implemented in several states.

If the unborn are declared persons:

  • Miscarriages would require full criminal investigations by the police, and could result in manslaughter convictions even in the case of no ill intent or wrongdoing. Personally, I think miscarrying a wanted pregnancy must be tragic enough without adding jail time to the mix. Consider the story of Christine Taylor, who was arrested for attempted homicide after feeling lightheaded and falling down while pregnant. Wanting to ensure that no harm had come to her unborn child, Taylor sought medical attention, which resulted in her arrest. [2] Laws declaring the unborn to be persons actively dissuade pregnant mothers from seeking help and making the best medical decisions for their pregnancies.
  • Doctors would have the right to obtain legal custody of a fetus and, thus, a woman’s body. Consider the story of Samantha Burton, who was forcibly confined to a hospital after she had the audacity to request a second opinion on her physician’s advice of bed rest. Her forced hospitalization separated her from her two young children, and she miscarried while being confined in the hospital. [3] Laws declaring the unborn to be persons rob mothers of their right to obtain as much information as possible and make their own medical decisions.
  • Certain forms of fertility treatment, including in vitro fertilization, would be made illegal.
  • Women who take prescription drugs for any reason during pregnancy, even with the approval of their OB/GYN, may be charged with delivering drugs to a minor, or child abuse. Child abuse laws regarding narcotics, after all, do not allow administration of drugs not prescribed to the child if there is relatively low risk of harm: it’s just illegal, and with good reason. Thus pregnant women may be forced to compromise their health and well-being during a pregnancy.
  • Conversely, women who fail to take proper vitamins such as folic acid (perhaps because they did not know that they were pregnant) would be subject to criminal prosecution.
  • Women struggling with addictions to drugs or smoking could be arrested for undergoing assistive treatment, or using products such as nicotine gum in an effort to live a healthier lifestyle during their pregnancy.
  • Canada may be forced to outlaw life-saving treatment for ectopic pregnancies should the date of personhood be set early enough. Ectopic pregnancies, as I am sure you are aware, rarely result in viable births and, if left untreated, will often render the woman infertile or kill her. Treatment for preeclampsia (the leading cause of death for pregnant women) could also be made illegal.
  • Doctors may force pregnant women to have major surgery such as Caesarian surgery against the pregnant woman’s wishes, as was the case with Angela Carder (who died, along with the fetus) and Laura Pemberton [4]. Police may arrest pregnant women who have exercised their right to medical decision-making regarding pregnancy, labour and delivery.

These are just a handful of considerations. I encourage you to ponder them, regardless of where you stand on the abortion issue. This motion has implications for all pregnant women, not just those who would like to have abortions.

I think that the moment of birth is the easiest way to define a person in practical legal terms; if an unborn child is to be a person, Canada must presumably begin granting unborn children the full rights of citizenship the moment they are deemed persons. I wonder, will expecting mothers be able to declare unborn children as dependents for tax and other benefit purposes? Does this also include phasing out birth certificates and birth dates in favour of personhood dates?

Take a moment to consider your position… then regardless of what you decide, I encourage you to take action!

* I am aware that MP Woodworth’s office must be very busy. But I was still surprised to receive a form letter reply that, among other things, thanked me for my “kind comments” and implored me to “promote the views we share with the utmost sensitivity and consideration toward those who disagree” and to publicly express my support for the motion.  The email also included a package of media releases, a pro-Motion 312 flyer, and a similarly supportive petition that I could pass around. I was certainly polite, but I wouldn’t have called my email kind, nor did I express any sort of support for the motion. In fact, I encouraged MP Woodworth to conduct a respectful debate in the House, and presented several arguments against the idea of striking a committee, in the hopes that he might decide to vote against his own motion. I assume my email was not read.







Response from MP Judy Sgro

This was forwarded to us by a pro-choice ally



I am writing in response to your e-mail (below) in which you ask me to oppose M-312.  Please note that it is my intention to vote against the said motion when it is next considered by the House.


I trust my comments will be of interest.  


Thank you for taking the time to contact me.


Hon. Judy Sgro, MP

York West


Response from NDP MP Paul Dewar

This was forwarded to us by a pro-choice ally


Dear Corinne,

Firstly, I would like to thank you for writing to me and expressing your concern regarding Motion M-312.

To be blunt, New Democrats and I vehemently oppose this motion for many of the same reasons that you have detailed in your thoughtful email. M-312 proposes to establish a parliamentary committee to review criminal code subsection 223(1) which states that a child becomes a human at the moment of birth, which I believe is an indirect means towards the goal of re-opening the abortion debate.

During the 2006, 2008 and 2011 election campaigns, Stephen Harper stated that his government did not want to revisit the abortion issue. However, now that there is a Conservative majority, Stephen Woodworth has tabled motion M-312 and I believe that there is reason to worry.

The New Democratic Official Opposition believes in universal access to abortion services and guaranteed reproductive freedoms for all Canadian women, regardless of factors like income or where they live. Abortion must remain a decision made between a woman and a health professional.

Once again, thank you for discussing your concerns with me concerning this important issue.

All the best,

Paul Dewar, MP | Député Ottawa Centre

NDP Foreign Affairs Critic

Porte-parole du NPD pour les affaires étrangères
Tel: 613.996.5322      
CEP 232


Response from Conservative MP Gordon O’Connor

This e-mail was forwarded to us by an ally.


Dear Darci,

On behalf of Gordon O’Connor, thank you for your correspondence regarding Motion M-312.

With regards to Motion M-312, it will be held as a free vote in the House of Commons. This means that members of the Conservative Party are free to vote as they choose. Mr. O’Connor will not be supporting this Motion.

Mr. O’Connor appreciates the opportunity to be kept abreast of the issues that are important to his constituents so that he may keep them in mind during ongoing discussions with his cabinet and caucus colleagues.

Once again, thank you for writing.


John Aris
Constituency Manager for
Hon. Gordon O’Connor, P.C., M.P.
Chief Government Whip
Carleton Mississippi Mills
Tel: 613-592-3469
Fax: 613-592-4756


Event photos from Ottawa

We’re already getting e-mails with photos taken at today’s rally in Ottawa. Keep ’em coming, folks! 

These photos come to us from Corrine. Merci!


Barb from the Canadian Labour Congress, speaking out against M-312

OfStephen, standing in front of the circle of support at the end of the rally

Photo by Jenn Farr. Full set of photos available here

Photo by Angella MacEwan


The following photos were taken by Julie Laurin












Communiqué de presse

Communiqué de presse – Radical Handmaids

Pour diffusion immédiate

Le 25 avril 2012


Des « servantes » protestent contre le projet de loi anti-avortement sur la colline parlementaire


OTTAWA – À la veille du dépôt, par le député conservateur de l’arrière-plan Stephen Woodworth, d’un projet de loi anti-avortement, un groupe de femmes déterminées se nommant Radical Handmaids (Servantes radicales) se rassemble sur la colline parlementaire pour se livrer à un peu de « cosplay » en faveur des droits liés à la procréation.


Affublées de vêtements rouges et de chapeaux de « sœur volante » pour faire allusion au classique roman de Margaret Atwood intitulé La Servante écarlate, les Servantes protestent contre le projet de loi M-312 parce qu’il constitue une atteinte rétrograde aux droits des femmes.


« La Servante écarlate ne devrait pas servir de mode d’emploi », a déclaré une jeune femme qui s’est identifiée simplement comme étant « DeStephen » (Woodworth ou Harper, vous avez le choix).


Dans le roman de madame Atwood, dont le décor est celui des États-Unis transformés par des intégristes en République de Giléad, les femmes sont jugées à leur capacité d’enfanter et les femmes fertiles sont réduites en esclavage par les hommes de l’élite gouvernante qui les engrossent de force.


« Nous observons la guerre livrée aux femmes aux États-Unis et nous savons que les Conservateurs essaient de la répandre ici en douce », a déclaré une autre manifestante DeStephen se tenant devant un assemblage d’utérus en laine de couleurs vives.


Des partisanes des différentes parties du pays envoient aux Servantes des utérus et des vulves tricotés selon des patrons disponibles sur l’Internet. Les Servantes disent que lorsqu’elles en auront recueillis suffisamment, elles feront parvenir ces pièces de laine aux députés qui votent en faveur du projet de loi de M. Woodworth.


« Puisqu’ils tiennent tant à contrôler nos utérus, ils peuvent bien avoir leur propre matrice », a déclaré madame DeStephen.


Si le projet de loi M-312 est adopté, un comité parlementaire sera créé pour réviser la question de savoir si le fœtus est un être humain. Les Servantes radicales signalent qu’il est inutile de relancer le débat sur l’avortement et qu’il vaudrait mieux employer les ressources parlementaires pour rétablir le programme national de services de garde d’enfants auquel les Conservateurs ont mis fin à leur élection en 2006.


« Les services de garde à prix abordable pour les parents travailleurs ne sont pas à l’ordre du jour », a dit madame DeStephen. « On dirait qu’il faut être un fœtus pour importer aux Conservateurs. »