Immediately after Stephen Woodworth’s M-312 was defeated in September, Conservative MP Mark Warawa (Langley) announced he was introducing a private member’s motion condemning the practice of sex-selective abortion. The motion – which expresses the view of the House of Commons and does not affect any law – states “that the House condemn discrimination against females occuring through sex-selective pregnancy termination.”
Introducing Motion 408 on Sept. 27, Warawa said, “recent studies have shown that the practice of aborting females in favour of males is happening in Canada.” He added, “ninety-two per cent of Canadians believe sex-selective pregnancy termination should be illegal.” He is referring to a 2011 LifeCanada Environics polls that found more than nine in ten Canadians opposed to the practice.
The bill is seconded by five female Conservative MPs: Stella Ambler (Mississauga South), Kelly Block (Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar), Nina Grewal (Fleetwood-Port Kells), Roxanne James (Scarborough Centre), and Joy Smith (Kildonan-St. Paul).
M-408 is not yet on the Order Paper but is expected to be drawn in the next month or so. Warawa says he expects the motion to be debated in March and voted on in April or May.
Warawa said that the urgency of the issue was impressed upon him last year when the CBC broadcast expose in June of ultrasound clinics which were being used to determine the preborn child’s sex in order for the parents to determine whether or not to have an abortion in cases where they are told they are expected to have a girl. Last January, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published a study in April noting that Canadian women born in South Korea and India have an unusually high proportion of boys compared to other women and editorialized that perhaps it was time for the medical establishment to reconsider their role in this sexist cultural practice.
NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said Warawa’s bill is an attempt by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives to re-open the abortion debate. He told reporters, “we’re not going to be fooled by Stephen Harper and his troops. I mean, they’ve been up to this for a number of years now.”
The Langley Advance reported that Piotr Majkowski, who ran for the NDP against Warawa in 2011, said he agreed with Mulcair, but added, “the NDP obviously opposes gender selection through abortion.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office said the Conservative government will oppose M-408. Harper’s press secretary, Carl Vallée, told LifeSiteNews.com that the government “is opposed to opening this debate,” misleadingly claiming, “Parliament has voted on this issue. We don’t think it should be opened again.” Gendercide – the targeting of preborn girls for elimination through abortion – has never been the subject of a parliamentary vote.
LifeSiteNews.com obtained a memo from the PMO saying much the same thing as Vallée, but also adding that the government opposes the motion because it gives credence to the opposition’s hidden agenda claims. The memo notes the Opposition parties are “saying that our government is trying to use Private Members’ Motions to reopen the abortion debate.”
Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes, told The Interim he is disappointed but not surprised by the PMO’s position. “It is sad that Harper would oppose this motion but predictable because he has always opposed doing anything about abortion.”
Hughes told The Interim that parliamentary insiders have told CLC that the PMO is considering its options to prevent a vote on the motion, including perhaps trying to have it declared unvotable.
CLC has said it will do “everything we can to promote life in Parliament and support Warawa’s efforts.” CLC has launched a petition campaign on their website in support of M-408.
The media has taken the same tact as Mulcair. Toronto Star columnist Tim Harper asked, “human rights issue or back door anti-abortion move?” Harper called the motion “camoflouged.”
On Dec. 5, Warawa held a press conference, during which Ambler, Block, and Smith also addressed the parliamentary press gallery. In all, 11 Conservative MPs were at the press conference to show support for M-408.
Warawa said he was battling lethal sex discrimination, not trying to criminalize abortion. He urged the House to pass M-408 to condemn sex-selective abortion and called upon the public to promote his motion to increase awareness about both his parliamentary effort and the issue of gendercide.
He brought attention to his Facebook and Twitter campaigns for M-408 and a petition drive, as he urged Canadians to support his efforts. He said petitions for M-408 can be downloaded from his website www.support408.com. M-408’s Facebook page is “Protect Girls – Support M408,” and the hashtags on Twitter are #M408 and #protectgirls.
Warawa also condemned news that both Liberals and the NDP both said they would oppose the motion, calling it a “back-door” effort by the Conservatives to revitalize the abortion debate. He said such a posture “would be shocking,” adding, “we either condemn this form of discrimination or we endorse it.”
The Hill Times, which covers parliamentary affairs, reported last month, “like Woodworth, Warawa guarantees abortion issue will briefly seize House.”
Kelly Block said Warawa’s efforts, including his social media campaign, helps Canadians to “protect women and girls against discrimination.” Block said, “by supporting M-408 we are affirming our value of gender equality here in Canada.”
Stella Ambler called Canada a human rights leader because “we take action when atrocities, like gendercide, are committed.”
Joy Smith, who did not vote for M-312, spoke in favour of M-408, saying it was a matter of “discrimination against women and girls.” She warned that “the Opposition will say lots of funny things,” to try scare Canadians into thinking the motion “is about recriminalizing abortion … that’s why I am personally here.” She applauded Warawa’s efforts and urged “all Canadians to support it.”
Warawa noted that the press conference was on Day 11 of the international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.
Furthermore, Warawa has presented petitions in support of his motion five times in final three months of 2012.