Garry Breitkreuz may be the most persistent advocate in Parliament for women’s health rights – and it’s all because of his pro-life convictions.

For much of his decade-long parliamentary career. the Saskatchewan Alliance MP has doggedly sought to expose the dangers women face from having abortions. His recent motion, M-83, calling on the Commons health committee to study the health effects of abortion on women, was defeated in a free vote earlier this fall. But, scant weeks later, Breitkreuz has introduced a new motion, M-482, that calls for the introduction of informed-consent legislation.

He acknowledges that “the majority of MPs in the House that night (Oct. 1) refused to support my motion, M-83, calling for the health committee to study all the risks women take by having an abortion.” But he adds that “the next logical step was to make sure that laws are in place to guarantee women are fully informed of all the risks by their doctors before they decide to abort their baby.”

Breitkreuz tells The Interim, “Doctors perform more than 100,000 abortions a year in Canada, and many women only learn about the risks after they are suffering with the side effects, such as increased risk of breast cancer, suicide, infertility, psychiatric problems, uterine perforations, pelvic inflammatory disease and an increase in pre-term and-or low birth-weight babies, which increases the risk of disabilities such as cerebral palsy. Every one of these women has a right to know and that’s why Canadian women need a women’s right-to-know act.”

The new act, he says, “would guarantee that all women considering an abortion would be given complete information by their physician about all the risks of the procedure before being referred for an abortion, and provide penalties for physicians who perform an abortion without the informed consent of the mother, or perform an abortion that is not medically necessary for the purpose of maintaining health, preventing disease or diagnosing or treating an injury, illness or disability in accordance with the Canada Health Act.”

Karen Murawsky, Ottawa director of Campaign Life Coalition, has praise for Breitkreuz’s perseverance in attempting to expose the consequences of abortion. She tells The Interim, “We’re very proud of him. He’s using (medical) science to back his motion. Young women suffer health problems for years following abortions. They say, ‘Why didn’t anyone tell me?'”

A significant minority of women who obtain abortions wind up in hospital with complications in the days following the procedure. “All kinds of women are admitted to the emergency ward with pelvic inflammatory disease, infections, and even perforated uteruses, but these are never reported as the after-effect of abortion,” she says.

Murawsky says that several U.S. states have passed informed-consent laws in the past decade, and while accurate statistics are difficult to come by, she says there is no doubt that many women will consider other options when confronted with all the facts.

It is a shame that such a law is necessary, given that physicians inform patients about the consequences of all other medical interventions, she says. “Doctor’s codes of ethics should deal with that.” But abortion doctors aren’t always the most ethical physicians and penalties must be assigned to ensure compliance, Murawsky says. “If they don’t have penalties, they’re not going to deal with this. They’re not likely to do anything they don’t have to do.”

Although Breitkreuz has struggled just to have his legislative efforts in defence of life debated, let alone passed in the current Liberal-dominated Parliament, there are good reasons to believe that his endeavours will ultimately be successful. A recent poll by Life Canada, the educational wing of the pro-life movement, has revealed some encouraging trends.

The poll, conducted by the respected Leger Marketing firm, asked the following question: “Some states in the U.S. have informed-consent laws concerning abortion. These laws require that before a woman has an abortion procedure, her physician must provide her with certain information such as details on the stages of f\etal development, including an ultrasound scan, possible complications and side effects following an abortion, and alternatives to abortion. Would you support similar laws in Canada for women considering abortion?”

Of the 1,882 survey respondents coast-to-coast, 69 per cent said yes, while only 24 per cent said no, and the remaining seven per cent did not know. Life Canada president-elect Joanne Byfield of Edmonton says, “While many politicians assume the position of the Globe and the CBC on life issues, if they really want to represent the views of the people, this motion should pass.”