Canada PM Harper Chided for Vote on Forced Abortion Bill

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 21, 2010   |   5:38PM   |   Ottawa, Canada

In the aftermath of the vote in the Canadian House of Commons on a bill the prevent forced and pressured abortions, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is coming under fire for opposing the measure.

Harper has said all along he doesn’t want to open Canada’s abortion debate but the legislation, modeled after successful bills in the United States that don’t affect the status of legalized abortion, was defeated by MPs.

Paul Wells of Macleans noted Harper took the unusual step of voting on the measure.

He said it surprised some political observers because it “what was worth noting was that Stephen Harper was voting against one of his own MPs.”

Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge (Winnipeg South) sponsored the bill, C-510, and it had the support of many Conservatives, including members of Harper’s own Cabinet: Stockwell Day, Jason Kenney and Gail Shea, among others. But Harper voted with other cabinet members James Moore and Lawrence Cannon in opposing the measure.

Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition displayed some of the anger pro-life Canadians have expressed towards Harper following the vote.

“Some have believed that Mr. Harper was a closeted pro-lifer waiting for a majority so he could enact pro-life legislation,” he said. “With this vote against a bill to ban coerced abortion his true colors have been revealed once and for all.”

“He said at one time his beliefs on the matter fell somewhere in the middle. If he simply didn’t want to appear to be pro-life, he should have just stayed away,” Mr. Hughes continued. “Everyone opposes coerced abortion. Why paint himself as an extremist on abortion?”

“I guess he figures social conservatives have no where to go politically,” he added. “Didn’t the Reform Party teach us what happens when Conservatives go to the left?”

The legislation would have made it illegal for anyone to coerce a woman into an abortion through threats of violence, withdrawal of financial resources or denial of a place to live.

Bruinooge acknowledges there are already general laws against coercion and making threats, but he believes a specific prohibition against coercing pregnant women into abortion needs to be spelled out as a message to potential offenders and to society at large.

Bruinooge says the bill, also known as Roxanne’s Law, is a response to the murder of Winnipeg constituent Roxanne Fernando, who was beaten to death by three men because she refused to have an abortion. Her body was found in a frozen ditch outside the city a few days after she vanished.

But, the House of Commons killed his private member’s bill by a vote of 178 to 97.