Canadian politics: Abortion motion on when life begins defeated
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Canadian politics: Abortion motion on when life begins defeated

Ottawa : Canada | Sep 27, 2012 at 7:04 AM PDT
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Despite fears that the Canadian Conservative government was attempting to reopen the abortion issue, which was settled by the Supreme Court while Brian Mulroney was in power in 1988, the Canadian Parliament handily defeated the motion 203-91. The 91 votes in favour of the motion were registered by conservative Members of Parliament.

The Conservative government in Canada was accused of wanting to reopen the debate in order to undermine Canada's liberal abortion law. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who voted against the motion, had said all along that he had no interest in reopening the debate.

One of the senior federal cabinet ministers, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney supported the motion and was slammed by the New Democratic Party's Nikki Ashton. She wondered why the minister was standing agains the government wishes.

“It comes as a surprise in a sense that we know that Mr. Kenney is very close to the Prime Minister. The question here is why he’s choosing to stand up against the government’s wishes.”

Ms Ashton and fellow NDP MP Francois Boivin also suggested that the motion should have been shut down and not come up for a vote.

Parliamentary rules, however, direct that a private members motion is only non-votable, if it does not come under federal jurisdiction. Abortion clearly does.

One of the major pro-life groups in Canada, the Campaign Life Coalition, said it was not deterre by the vote. In a tweet to its followers it said, “No matter, this motion succeeded in creating a necessary debate.”

Conservative Member of Parliament, Stephen Woodworth, who introduce the motion, acknowledged the defeat, but vowed to fight on against the denial of the worth and dignity of every human being.

“I will be there to encourage and to speak out in defence of the Canadian values championed by Motion 312” Woodworth said. “If possible, I’ll travel the country to talk about the very, very grave importance of enshrining in Canadian law the equal worth and dignity of every human being.”

The Supreme Court ruled that criminalizing abortion was unconstitutional in 1988.

R. v. Morgentaler was a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada which held that the abortion provision in the Criminal Code of Canada was unconstitutional, as it violated a woman's right under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to security of person. Since this ruling, there have been no criminal laws regulating abortion in Canada. Wikepedia

Opinion: This issue has been discussed to death since the Supreme Court ruling. While society has moved on since the ruling almost a quarter century ago, it seems some can't let sleeping dogs lie. It is truly time to move on. Rona Ambrose, who is the Minister for the Status of Women, voted for the motion as did my own Member of Parliament, Brian Storseth.

While it may be a vote of conscience for the MP, there has never been a query, to my knowledge, of the constituency on how the elecrtorate feels about the issue. MPs should not assume that we support motions of this nature without first inquiring.

Kudos to Prime Minister Harper for not falling into a trap on this motion. He kept his word on this issue.

How they voted: (Huffington Post)

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Stephen Harper
Stephen Harper voted against the private member's motion 312, which wanted to study when life begins.
Karl Gotthardt is based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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