Stephen Woodworth’s motion (M-312) calling upon Parliament to examine when human life begins and what consequences that finding might have for Canadian law is set for the first hour of debate today. We wrote about M-312 in the April issue of The Interim and editorialized about Woodworth’s audacious effort in February. (You can find all our coverage of Stephen Woodworth’s motion here.) The opposition has gone nuts because they cannot countenance any discussion about abortion. NDP leader Thomas Mulcair says that despite the Prime Minister’s repeated assertions that he will not re-open the abortion issue, Woodworth is doing the bidding of the government so the Conservatives are trying to ban abortion through the back-door and without taking the blame for it. Liberal MP Rodger Cozner said that the abortion issue is settled and the only reason the government — not Woodworth, but the Harper government, he claims — is talking about abortion to give some red meat to the socon base especially after the Wildrose defeat in Alberta, adding that bringing up abortion “is like that 70s Show.” (Never mind that Woodworth has talked about the need for this discussion for years and said in December he was bringing forward his motion, so I’m not sure what the Alberta election has to do with all this.)
The CBC reports that the NDP will whip the caucus to oppose the motion while interim leader Bob Rae will let members of the Liberal caucus vote their conscience (free vote). It is unclear what Stephen Harper intends to do and the state broadcaster indicates that pro-life cabinet ministers like Jason Kenney will face a difficult decision. After the first hour of debate today, the motion will return in June or September for more debate and a vote, and if it passes the House vote it will go to committee sometime in the Fall. It is a longshot and there is a long journey — and this motion is part of a longer journey to enact pro-life legislation — but Canadians and their legislators should not be afraid to discuss weighty issues and to do so honestly. As Woodworth says, abortion is not a closed issue and whatever the result of the vote on M-312 may be, this is not the last time how we view and treat prenatal human life is going to be dealt with in Parliament.