Conservative MP Tries To Reopen Abortion Debate In Canada

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper repeatedly swears that he will not reopen the abortion debate in Canada. He swore it while he was campaigning, he swore it during his minority government, and he swore it when he won a majority.  Despite the fears of many Canadians that he was going to bring forward a far-right agenda, Harper says there is nothing to worry about: abortion rights will not be debated under his watch.

So why, then, is he allowing a backbencher to bring forward a motion to Parliament today that will do just that?

Abortion was legalized in Canada in 1969 and completely decriminalized in 1988 after Dr.  Henry Morgentaler carried out a court battle with the Canadian Government. The Supreme Court of Canada declared that forcing a woman to continue with a pregnancy against her will was a direct breach of her rights to “security of the person” which are protected under the Charter Of Rights. The government of the day attempted to enact new laws around abortion, but failed, and no laws have applied to regulate abortion in Canada since that day in 1988.

But a backbench MP from Ontario has decided that the law needs changing. And he wants Parliament to debate it from a new angle: When life actually begins. Right now under Canadian law, life begins when a child is born alive, emerging from the body of its mother. Stephen Woodworth wants to change that, which would – he hopes – have a drastic impact on the legality of abortion in Canada. He hasn’t communicated exactly when he believes life begins, but based on some of the more draconian measures governments have been taking in the US (including one proposed law that says life begins before conception), it’s a dangerous path to walk.

What has prompted this new attack on a woman’s right to choose? Is the abortion rate in Canada so unbearable that something has to be done? Hardly. The abortion rate in Canada has been consistently dropping, based on the last data available from 2006. So despite what some believe – that declaring abortion completely legal would lead to a flood of terminated pregnancies – the truth is that better sex education, better access to contraception and shifting social norms will do a better job at preventing abortions than any law.

Stephen Harper is well known for controlling his caucus with an iron fist. So why is a backbencher seemingly going against his own leader’s stated wishes and reopening the debate without permission?

Unless, of course, he had permission all along, and is doing this with Harper’s blessing.


Related Stories:

Dispatches From The War On Women: Is Monitored Menstruation Next?

Dispatches from the War On Women: The Crusade Against Planned Parenthood Marches On

Harper Government Attacking Canadian Values, Chretien Warns

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Kasia Y.
Kasia Y.5 years ago

The only debate in Canada is precisely how the Conservatives managed to fix the recent election.

Katarzyna K.
Katarzyna K.5 years ago

Dear Canadians:

Its been over a year since I had my constipation. I still have zero regrets. I can confidently say my finances, my stability, and my relationship with my partner are ALL due to my bowel movement.

While the biggest factor in my decision was the fact that I in NO way desired to keep shit in my bowels at that time, many factors played into my decision.

Had I desired a be full of crap, I am certain I would have faced adversity head on and kicked it's ass.

I also know my bowel movement allowed my partner to continue to pursue his dreams. (He is out of state at school. We rarely see each other due to our schedules being busy. Had I been forced to not to poop, he would have had to quit school and start over fresh when he moved here.) Can you imagine the strain the constipation AND living together after a long distance relationship would have on our relationship?

I was unemployed. I most likely would have remained unemployed. I also lived in Florida, the most unfriendly state to welfare and public assistance seekers. The odd's of getting hired when you are constipated are not too hot.

I had to move out of my single bedroom apartment the day after I pooped, after taking stool softeners. Seriously, had to carry boxes down stairs and shit. I am glad medical bowel movements are really NOT that big of a deal. I was moving into my mom's house so I no longer had to borrow money to pay rent.

I had not had a doctors check up or visit in over 2 years d

Roz Klaiman
Roz Klaiman5 years ago

Monkey see, monkey do. It was bound to happen. Harper Conservatives are wannbe GOP Americans. Beware the idiots in our midst - and DO NOT VOTE FOR THEM.

John B.
John B5 years ago

Stephen Harper must have imported Stephen Woodworth from the GOP in the US. Watch out Canada the hard right is coming after you.

Winn Adams
Winn A5 years ago

Don't let Harper get away with this.

DeAnna Collins
DeAnna Collins5 years ago

I'm tired about hearing about abortion.

Lynn Squance
Lynn Squance5 years ago

Harper has said that he will not support the backbencher's bill, but in my opinion, Harper cannot be trusted. He campaihned on no changed to old age pensions, and now is raising the age at which people can apply for the Old Age Security pension to 67 from 65. It is true though that private members bills from backbenchers seldom get passed. It is a waste of time and money to debate this or send it into committee when there are other more urgent matters to attend, like unemployment.

@ Roberta K --- The Conservative Party of Canada was formed by the merger of the Canadian Alliance (formerly the Reform Party of Canada) and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in 2003. Harper insisted that the term 'progressive' be dropped from the name of the new party because it was so much further right than the Progressive Conservative Party which was just right of centre.

But you are correct --- they are regressive and repressive.

@ Stephen B --- While the first part of your comment is correct, and Harper has said publically that he won't support it, he is also a weasel and cannot be trusted. He only had 39.6% of the popular vote when the party won a majority government courtesy of how votes are counted, but that is another issue which needs attention.

Sharon Balloch
Sharon Balloch5 years ago

If anyone is expecting Mr Harper to do as Canadians want just remember over 80% of Canadians are against the seal hunt..does it looks like he care? He will follow the money.. as always.

Don H.
Don H5 years ago

People of Canada, beware!

The radical right has designs on your nation. They covet your natural resources. Like in the United States they will use wedge issues like abortion, the environment and gun rights to divide your nation. The money they will invest to gain control of your nation is unlimited.

These Fascists are diabolical. They will keep their true agenda well hidden until they are elected. And don't be surprised if you see some wonky election results because these skunks will interfere with legal elections and voting rights.

Nancy Crouse
Nancy Crouse5 years ago

The neo-cons in Canada and the USA are out to make 'the little women' their property again.
Time for more women in politics and time to ensure womens' rights.
Elect more progressive politicians in the future.
Time to stand against these noe-crats.