Motion 312 Defeat Unifies Pro-Life Canaidans

As Motion 312 met with defeat on Wednesday, September 26th in Parliament, many pro-life Canadians felt not disappointment, but optimism. Motion 312 was voted against 203 to 91, with 87 of those votes coming from the Conservative party. Surprisingly, one third of cabinet ministers voted in favour of this motion, against Mr. Harper’s advice. 



Rona Ambrose, Canada’s Minister for Status of Women also cast a vote in favour of the Motion, a move which has sparked much backlash in the media. An article in the National Post by Barbara Kay reported that Libby Davis, Deputy NDP leader, had this to say about Ambrose’s vote: “As the minister responsible for the status of women, I think there’s a very clear expectation that [Ms. Ambrose] will uphold the rights of women in this country…She showed that she wasn’t prepared to do that yesterday in how she voted.”A comment from Ambrose on Twitter later that day explained her actions. “I have repeatedly raised concerns about discrimination of girls by sex-selection abortion: no law needed, but awareness!”

Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott, said that the attention that Woodworth’s motion brought should help create a more unified effort among pro-life parliamentarians. It is hoped that this will turn a disorganized movement into a coordinated political push to gain rights for unborn children.

In the wake of Motion 312’s defeat, a new motion has been brought forward by Conservative MP Mark Warawa to address exactly what Ambrose is concerned about.  Warawa of Langley, B.C. has launched a motion to condemn sex-selective abortion in Canada.

Motion 408 asks: “That the House condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination.”

This motion is one that reflects the sentiments of many Canadians; in an Environics poll commissioned by LifeCanada late last year, 92% of Canadians expressed that they were against sex-selective abortions and that a ban should be in place. A report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in January called for measures to be put in place to combat sex-selective abortion among Canada’s Asian immigrant population. All political parties, as well as the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada have condemned sex-selective abortion.

This motion will build on the wave of Motion 312, providing further debate in Parliament, a place essential for change to happen. Warawa said that his motion is not connected to Woodworth’s, but is in response to research suggesting evidence for female abortions among some Canadian ethnic groups. “[Doctors] should not be telling the sex of the fetus to the parent so they can terminate the pregnancy,” Warawa said in a September 27 interview with Postmedia News.

Warawa’s motion has met with some early opposition despite initial support for it. Liberal MP for Vancouver Centre, Hedy Fry, said in an interview with Postmedia News that there are some reasons where disclosure of the sex of a fetus may be necessary, such as cases where one sex may carry recessive genes for particular diseases. Warawa’s motion, she said, does not count for cases where this may be necessary. Fry said that her party could support a motion regarding sex-selective abortion, but not in such a simple form as Motion 408 lays out. She concluded her statement by saying “Unless clinically indicated, abortion for sex selection based solely on gender…should be condemned.”

If accepted as private member’s business, Warawa’s motion won’t be debated until a year from now. Until then, however, it will be interesting to see where Canadian politics takes the issue of abortion. Ever since the final vote in the House of Commons on Motion 312, the media has exploded with coverage for the abortion issue in Canada. This has served as a moment of significant education for the Canadian public, who have been enlightened about the way the unborn are treated in Canadian law.  Both Motion 312 and now Motion 403 have the added benefits of bolstering the efforts of the Canadian pro-life movement, which will have very positive, long term effects on Canada.