by Wendy Turpin
On January 2nd, 2008, 28 year old Joanne Hoeppner of Winnipeg was shot dead through the front door of her home as she went to answer it. Joanne was eight months pregnant and preparing to give birth to a fully formed and beautiful little girl who also died as a result of the shooting. Just three days prior to this tragic event, Joanne’s sister, Christal, had taken Joanne to church, where Christal’s friend, Glenda Schwarz, took the time to pray for both Joanne and her unborn child. Glenda is a partner with the National House of Prayer and was visiting NHOP this week with a team of intercessors from Morden and Virden, Manitoba, when she related this incredibly sad story to me.
Glenda said that, to her knowledge, this was the first time that Joanne had attended the church. In discussions with Christal, Glenda learned that Joanne was in the process of turning her life around from a life of prostitution, drugs and child apprehensions and had been drug free for several months. A CBC news report stated that according to Joanne’s roommate, Theresa Fontaine, Hoeppner had worked in the sex trade and had used drugs, but was clean and sober at the time of the shooting. “When she knew she was pregnant, she wanted to stop all that. So, she was doing really good,” she said. “She’s got the ultrasound right by the Christmas tree.… She was very happy. She wasn’t a bad girl.” Members of the Hoeppner family said she planned to move and was seeking custody of one of her four children. “She wanted so much to get her life on track, and she was looking forward to moving into a place at the end of the month where she could raise her baby, and get custody of her son,” family members said. A chance that neither she nor her unborn child will get now.
This is a shockingly sad event to me and what makes it even sadder is that the unborn child, under Canadian law, did not exist because she had not been born, and therefore when her murderer is caught he will only be charged with the murder of her mother. One murder — not two. As it stands now, under Canadian law, when a pregnant woman is murdered or assaulted, the Canadian Criminal Code does not provide for any charges to be laid in respect of the unborn child who is injured or dies as a result. Thankfully, there is proposed legislation, called the Unborn Victims of Crime Act, Bill C-484, which, if passed, will change this dismal truth. Currently, Bill C-484 has been passed through the preliminary stage of debate (a miracle in itself because it’s a private member’s bill) to a committee for further scrutiny, but is subject to another vote and if passed, further assessment by the Senate before it can receive Royal Assent.
If you agree that no recognition for the injustice done to this baby girl and her grieving family, is wrong, then please pray that Bill C-484 passes. It’s an important bill and needs continuous prayer coverage. There are many within the House of Commons who feel this sort of change in the law would detrimentally affect women’s rights in Canada and are already vehemently opposing it. I know for a fact that Joanne’s family don’t agree and would like justice for their unborn grandchild and niece and on behalf of her mom. Please take this matter to prayer! Unborn victims of crime deserve justice and passage of this bill will open the door for that right in Canada.