On Sept. 26, immediately following the defeat of M-312 in a House vote, Conservative MP Mark Warawa (Langley) announced he would introduce Motion 408 which condemns sex-selective abortion, which will likely come up for debate in early 2013.
Warawa, an MP since 2004, introduced his motion on a topic that has garnered increased media attention over the past year, with the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada and the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association both speaking out against the practice. In June, the CBC reported on the widespread practice of utilizing private “entertainment” ultrasound businesses to determine the sex of the unborn child, information a growing number of doctors will not share because of concerns about aborting female preborn children.
M-408 reads: “That the House condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination.”
Warawa stated in a press release that studies show gendercide is taking place in Canada and that polls show “92 per cent of Canadians believe sex-selective pregnancy termination should be illegal.” He also thanked the “CBC for bringing this matter to the attention of Canadians,” noting his constituency office received numerous concerns about the practice after the CBC expose.
Warawa said that if the motion, which only expresses the opinion of the House of Commons, passes, it will help bring about the end of the lethal form of gender discrimination in Canada.
Campaign Life Coalition launched a petition urging all MPs and party leaders to support M-408. The petition, which can be accessed online, states sex-selective abortion is “a reprehensible practice that targets baby girls for female gendercide and represents discrimination against women in its most extreme form.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper reiterated during the M-312 debates that he does not want to deal with the abortion issue any further. The Globe and Mail reported that Julie Vaux in the Prime Minister’s Office replied to their request for an interview by simply noting in an email, “The Prime Minister has been clear that we do not intend to reopen the debate on abortion.”
Conservative Party and government policy states that a Conservative-led government will not introduce abortion legislation, but leaves the door open to MPs tackling the issue with private member’s bills and motions. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, a senior member of the government, reiterated often during the M-312 debate that it is Conservative Party tradition and government policy to allow free votes on issues of conscience.
CLC national president Jim Hughes congratulated Warawa for bringing forth the motion. “It’s a common sense motion and I hope that pro-life people across the country will call on their MPs to support it.”
Alissa Golob, youth coordinator for Campaign Life Coalition, said she is happy Warama brought forth the motion. “It’s awesome,” she told The Interim. “Killing all unborn children is wrong, but there is a societal consensus that killing girls in the womb simply because of their sex is particularly offensive, the ultimate form of misogyny.” Golob also said she relishes watching pro-abortion activists deal with the issue: “M-408 will trap pro-aborts because it will expose their hypocrisy in championing abortion as a woman’s right when baby girls are being targeted for execution by abortion.”
The Globe and Mail reported that Julie Lalonde, a board member for the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, dismissed M-408 as a ploy. “It is anti-choice MPs and anti-choice organizations that seem to be fixated on sex-selective abortions because it is a seemingly touchy subject,” Lalonde said, “so it gets people who are on the fence about abortion to sympathize with their viewpoint.”
Likewise, opposition MPs opposed Warawa’s efforts. Liberal health critic Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre) said she opposes the motion despite being personally opposed to sex-selective abortion: “I also don’t think the state has a right intervening in this issue. It is a medical decision between the physician and the patient. It should be left there as all abortions should be.”
NDP MP Niki Ashton (Churchill), the party critic for women’s issues, said M-408 “misses the point” on gender equality issues as she attacked the Conservative government for not doing enough for aboriginal women and funding daycare while insisting the Harper Tories are pushing a pro-life agenda: “We’re seeing a rehashed attempt to reopen the abortion debate,” Ashton complained.