Canadian Abortion Debate Delayed Until Fall

It’s the issue Stephen Harper appears to want to just go away.

In April, backbench MP Stephen Woodworth tabled a private member’s bill in Parliament to discuss the concept of when life actually legally begins in Canada. Under current law, life begins when a child emerges alive from the body of his or her mother. Woodworth wants to change that. He hasn’t said exactly *when* he thinks life begins, but he definitely thinks it begins before current law allows – and that, in turn, would give anti-choice activists a back door to impact access to abortion in Canada.

Stephen Harper has said repeatedly that he has no interest in reopening the abortion debate in Canada. Canada has had no laws around abortion since 1988. Harper has said that this bill was presented against his wishes, but that his caucus is free to represent their constituents as they feel is appropriate. Harper, however, is not known to tolerate dissent in the ranks well. He is making it clear that he has no intention of allowing the bill to pass when it comes up in the House for a vote next week. The Conservatives have apparently stopped just short of officially whipping the vote for fear of alienating their right-wing base, who favour stricter abortion laws. Instead, his team is making it clearly and vigorously known that a vote for Woodworth’s motion would garnish strong disapproval from the PMO – going as far to say that voting for the motion would be a direct vote against Harper.

The game changed this week when Woodworth made a move to delay discussion of his motion until the fall. Under current parliamentary rules, Private Members bills are discussed in order of presentation and Woodworth’s bill was scheduled for discussion this week. But early in the week, Woodworth swapped spots on the agenda with another politician whose bill was further down the list, which will delay debate on his motion until the fall. Woodworth says that he made the move because his mother is currently gravely ill and he did not have the time to focus properly on preparing for the debate.

Either way, the vote will be coming up within the year – and if Stephen Harper gets his way, the issue may be done with, at least for now.


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Photo Credit: CPAC (screen shot)


Frank Payne
Frank Payne5 years ago

Whenever I read anything written or spoken by Harper, I can't understand how any civilized society managed to elect him to office.He demonstrates his stupidity with unfailing predictability.

june t.
reft h5 years ago

it was tabled for discussion, not a vote. Nothing will come of it anyway since it won't have many backers.

Troy G.
Troy Grant5 years ago

Being conservative light is like being a little pregnant. You either vote for Hitler or Stalin.

Amanda M.
Amanda M5 years ago

Wendy M, my body is just that-MY body. Therefore, I have the right to decide FOR MYSELF what does and does not happen to it. NOBODY has the "right" to trump that, least of all a glob of tissue the size of a peanut with no more sentience than a tumor!

Can a zygote/embryo/fetus think for itself? Breathe for itself? Vote? The answer to all of the above is a resounding NO.

Can an already-born woman breathe for herself? Think for herself? Vote? The answer to all of the above is a resounding YES.

Therefore, a zygote/embryo/fetus does NOT trump her rights to control of her own body.

Oh, and it's CONSCIOUS BRAIN FUNCTION that truly determines life, not merely the automatic function of heartbeat! Even the medical profession recognizes that SCIENTIFIC FACT.

Terri Lynn Merritts
Terri M5 years ago

Wendy M- I am an Atheist and my body belongs to me and only to me and not to some imaginary friend/boss you think you think you have in the sky. Canada's law is just fine as it is and in fact, the USA needs a similar federal law. You and your imaginary friend don't get to decide for the rest of us that we must keep a 1/2 to 3/4 inch clot of tissue (the size in the first trimester abortion) in our bodies if we don't want to.

DaretoCare S.

Ah Wendy M - Your comments presuppose the existance of God - and assume that the rest of the population believes in said God.; however we don't all have the same belief system and thus your comments are quite nonsensical. (sound a trifle fanatical as well actually - although I hesitate to make that kind of value judgement based upon one post) Try to understand that you are living in a multicultural, multidimensional world, and respect the rights of others to ytheir own beliefs. My right to control my own body DOES supercede your right (or anybody elses) to control it for me. You have the right to determine what happens with your body - I control mine. Understand how that works? I (and you and everyone else living here) have the right to our own autonomy. Now THIS is both beautiful and simple. Your rights end where mine begin.Thank you.

Jen Matheson
Past Member 5 years ago

Even Harper's smart enough to know that if he messes with abortion rights, he will get in hot water! We don't need more of these Fundamentlist whack jobs in our country.

Wendy M.
Wendy M5 years ago

Who says; this body is yours?? This body is on LOAN from God. IT DOESN'T BELONG TO YOU!!

When are you Women going to wake up and realize this, when hell freezes over?

There needs to be a NEW abortion law that states, you kill, you will be held accountable for the murder. It's just that simple!

Drusilla P.
Drusilla P5 years ago

It's nearly always boys who want to make choices for women.
The day they can get pregnant, they can talk. Until then, they must keep their mouths shut.
The brainwashed gals must keep in mind that women are *not* slaves.

Thanks for the info.

Julia Ringma
Past Member 5 years ago

This was not a bill. It was a motion to discuss. There is a big difference.