Media Release — For Immediate Release June 4, 2004
VANCOUVER — The Conservative Party of Canada has a not-so-hidden agenda to regulate or even re-criminalize abortion, said Canada's pro-choice community today. In a media interview on Wednesday, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper indicated that he would allow legislation against abortion in a second term, but not during a first term.
"Let's not forget that most of the new Conservative Party is simply the old Alliance party in sheep's clothing," said Joyce Arthur, spokesperson for the Pro-Choice Action Network. "Many of the Alliance MP's were anti-choice and still are, as proven by health critic Rob Merrifield's wish to pass a law forcing women to undergo third-party informed consent — a scheme for foisting anti-abortion propaganda onto vulnerable women."
Arthur pointed out that since 1996, anti-choice Reform and Alliance MP's have introduced at least eight different private motions trying to regulate abortion, most within the last couple of years. "With a new Conservative government, this pattern would not only continue, but likely escalate." Indeed, Harper said yesterday that he can't stop his MP's from introducing private motions and bills, and would allow free votes on such bills.
The anti-choice presence in the Conservative Party is strong and outspoken, noted Arthur. At the annual "March for Life" on May 13 in Ottawa, almost 20 anti-choice MP's attended in support, most of them from the new Conservative Party. "This is just the tip of the iceberg," said Arthur. "Many more anti-choice Conservative candidates are undoubtedly just waiting for their chance in the spotlight." Meanwhile, Campaign Life Coalition, Canada's national anti-choice group, is busy questioning and evaluating every single candidate's position on abortion, the results of which will shortly be posted on their website. This is the same group that urged their supporters last November to buy party memberships in the Canadian Alliance and Tory parties in order to wield a social conservative influence in the proposed new Conservative Party of Canada.
"We don't have to wait for a second Conservative term," said Arthur. "If Harper is elected, anti-abortion groups will be relying on the Conservative Party to meet their demands, and many anti-choice MP's within the party will take steps to advance an anti-abortion legislative agenda, including attempts to re-criminalize abortion."
"Canadians need to be aware of the real right-wing agenda of the new Conservative Party and vote accordingly," Arthur said. "Because the Party will roll back women's rights."
(The following is a historical listing of anti-abortion motions and activities by Members of Parliament.)
Prepared by the Pro-Choice Action Network, June 4, 2004, www.prochoiceactionnetwork-canada.org
- March 14, 1996 - Reform MP Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville, Saskatchewan) calls for national referendum on tax-funding for abortions.
- October 29, 1996 - Reform leader Preston Manning calls for national referendum to place a ban on abortion in the Constitution.
- March 1997 - Reform MP Keith Martin (now an independent) introduces private member bill to charge pregnant women who abuse alcohol, drugs etc. with criminal endangerment of fetus. Guilty women would be sentenced to treatment centre.
- November 20, 1997 - Breitkreuz reintroduces private member’s motion M-268 calling for a binding national referendum on government funding for "medically unnecessary" abortions.
- April 18, 2002 - Breitkreuz introduces motion M-392 asking the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to examine the current definition of “human being” in the Criminal Code to see if the law needs to be amended to provide protection to fetuses and to designate a fetus/embryo as a human being.
- June 17, 2002 - Breitkreuz introduces motion M-523 asking the Standing Committee on Health to evaluate whether or not abortions are "medically necessary" and the health risks for women undergoing abortions compared to women carrying their babies to full term.
- October 30, 2002 - Alliance MP Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin) reintroduces his conscience clause legislation for debate, for health care workers who refuse to take part in procedures such as abortion for reasons of conscience and religion.
- September 30, 2003 - Breitkreuz introduces motion M-83, asking the justice committee to examine whether abortions are medically necessary as defined by the Canada Health Act, and to compare the health risks of women undergoing abortions compared to women who carry their babies to full term. Breitkreuz got over 10,000 Canadians to sign petitions supporting this motion, which was defeated Oct. 2.
- October 23, 2003 - Breitkreuz introduces motion M-482 asking Parliament for a Woman’s Right to Know Act, which would "guarantee women are fully informed of all the risks before deciding to abort their baby” and provide penalties for physicians who perform an abortion without the informed consent of the woman.
- March 11, 2004 - Breitkreuz introduces motion M-560 calling on the government to create a new criminal code offence for the "murder of an unborn child" when a third party murders a pregnant woman.
- February 24, 2002 - During a nationally televised leadership debate, all four Alliance leadership candidates tell potential voters they would not lead a push to have abortion banned or delisted as a surgical procedure covered by medicare.
- May 25, 2002 - Alliance MP Jason Kenney (now Conservative incumbent for Calgary Southeast) speaks at the Alberta Pro-Life Conference in Edmonton and says most abortions are not medically necessary and should not be funded.
- November 26, 2002 - Anti-choice MPs Tom Wappel (Liberal), Elsie Wayne (Conservative), and Maurice Vellacott (Alliance) release an open letter questioning Dr. Morgentaler's motivations and accusing him of hiding lucrative profits from his abortion clinics.
- January, 2003 - Three anti-choice MP's issue a press release criticizing the idea of awarding Dr. Henry Morgentaler the Order of Canada. Paul Steckle (Liberal), Maurice Vellacott (Alliance), and Elsie Wayne (Conservative) claim that Morgentaler's "legacy" is one of harming women.
- May 13, 2004 - Almost 20 MP's, mostly Conservatives, attend the annual March for Life in Ottawa, organized by Campaign Life Coalition, Canada's national anti-choice group.
Pro-Choice Action Network, Vancouver, BC.