Skip to main content
Search Liberal.ca

Tell Harper: Hands off our reproductive rights

Posted by Lucie Pépin on April 25, 2012 | No Comments

Stephen Harper said he would not re-open the debate on a woman’s right to choose.

But 24 hours from now, he’ll allow Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth to put forward a motion in the House of Commons which clearly opens the possibility of re-criminalizing abortion.

It’s up to you to make sure Canadian women and men know about it.

Please sign and share the petition and tell the Prime Minister: Hands off our reproductive rights.

When I began my nursing career in the 1950s in Quebec, contraception was illegal and women had no say over family planning. They had no choice, and some faced desperation.

I saw women come to the hospital, bleeding and in pain, only to discover they’d tried to end their pregnancy themselves.

As a nurse, and later as an MP and Senator, I took part in the hard-fought battles to institutionalize and enshrine the right to choose in Canadian law.

And in 1988 the debate was settled when the Supreme Court ruled: “The decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy is essentially a moral decision and in a free and democratic society, the conscience of the individual must be paramount to that of the state.”

If you believe in a Canadian woman’s right to choose, you have 24 hours to speak up and spread the word.

Please sign and share the petition and tell the Prime Minister: Hands off our reproductive rights.

http://lpc.ca/handsoff

Thank you.

Lucie Pépin

Senator for Shawinigan, Quebec (1997-2011)
MP, Outremont (1984-1988)

Help spread the word by sharing this with your friends.

Short link:

Email this to your friends.
Sender: Sender:
Recipients: Recipients:

Load from: Gmail · Yahoo! · Hotmail · AOL

Personal Message: Personal Message:

We will never share your email address.

We'd love to hear your opinion. Your comments won't be posted on the website.
Sender: Sender:

We will never share your email address.

Join the conversation  

Please note that comments are moderated with the goal of stimulating an intelligent and fruitful discussion. As such, we ask that you use language that is civil and respectful, and refrain from attacks of any kind. We reserve the right to remove or not post any comments or information that does not meet these requirements.
  1. Avatar of Jarek Walter Jarek Walter said on

    I don’t understand. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said no one in his caucus supports the motion but he plans to whip the vote, or force his MPs to vote along party lines. Bob Rae said he’s going to allow Liberal MPs to vote however they want, known as “voting their conscience.”
    It can be perceived as our position on this motion is not as strong as NDP’s.

    ( http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/04/25/pol-abortion-stephen-woodworth-motion.html )

    Vote
      0  
    • Avatar of Martin Showell Martin Showell said on

      Sorry, but I agree with the LPC and Bob Rae…votes of conscience should always be free votes.

      Vote
        0  
      • Avatar of Robert Robert said on

        I respect your opinion Martin and usually agree with you but what is the point of the petition then? What if this was minority government and we launched a petition got 40 000 votes and made it official policy, then let members vote freely. I understand the idea of free vote but maybe we should not have launched a petition then, and had the party take a position. I fear the NDP will be seen as stronger supporter of women’s rights. I don’t think that is true, but that is how it will get spun. What would be worse if abortion became and issue and we start fundraising on it.

        Would you agree with the statement
        “Votes of conscience should be free providing the party has no official policy relating to the particular vote.”

        Vote
          0  
        • Avatar of Martin Showell Martin Showell said on

          Nope, sorry, can’t agree with that. The whole point of free votes (a.k.a. votes of conscience) is that there are some things that you simply cannot tell a person how to vote on. Usually, a conscience vote will be about religious, moral or ethical issues – things that it is unreasonable to hold a caucus member to party line on. Why should I have to choose between my religious faith and my political leanings? We elect members of parliament because we think they support our ideals. If they vote with their conscience against the wishes of the majority of their constituents, they will not be re-elected. Besides, a strong “believer” will abandon the party to save their “soul” anyway – you can’t in fact “make” a member of parliament vote a certain way.

          To be honest, I’m not sure what the point of the petition was. In my opinion this petition, this blog, and much of the media coverage on this subject is, at the best premature and at the worst histrionic.

          It is completely within Stephen Woodworth’s rights to put forward this bill. I’m not naive … we all know what it’s leading to … but it’s a legitimate request to ask parliament to form a committee to re-investigate a 300 hundred year old definition of when a human life starts.

          Why are we…why are pro-choicers…why are women’s rights groups so darn afraid of this question? Canada right now has no valid laws governing abortion. Nothing for late-term abortion. Nothing for abortion based on gender choice. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea to look at these questions and to have this discussion.

          And, the start of human life isn’t just about abortion – no that’s too easy – if we decide that human life starts before birth, ergo a fetus has rights, then where does it stop? What if a women chooses to drink alcohol or smoke or eat at MacDonald’s during a pregnancy – can we stop her? To protect the fetus? Strap her down and force feed her bean sprouts?

          These are incredibly difficult, moral, ethical, and, for many, religious questions. But should we stifle the dialogue? And should we force our caucus to vote a certain way on issues like these?

          It is important to remember that there are members of the LPC that are pro-life, just as there are members of the CPC that are pro-choice. I myself am 100% pro-choice AND 100% pro-life. I despise the idea of abortion but realize that it is not my choice to make, and that it is the best interest of society, women and family health to not criminalize it – doesn’t mean I support it. Is anyone really “pro” abortion? Many, many Canadians want some form of legislation on abortion. Something to stop gender based abortion, late term abortion…does a fetus have “no” rights? I’m not sure…

          But back to the question of a vote of conscience…the Liberals and Bob Rae are doing the right thing.

          And I am sure this has “helped” Stephen Harper to decide that the vote will be a free vote for the conservative members as well – and guess what? Mr. Harper has just announced that he, personally, will be voting against the bill!!

          Good for him! and good for Bob being first, and shame on Mulcair for not having faith in his members of parliament to do the “right” thing – whatever they each think that is.

          We should have this discussion but no one really wants to make this a political issue again. Not even the evil and dreaded CPC.

          Vote
            0  
          • Avatar of Catherine Wilkie Catherine Wilkie said on

            Martin: It IS an issue. We are discussing it. And I would welcome our Liberal representatives to discuss it with us here.

            Not a fundraiser email blast.

            A rationale, calm, respectful discussion.

            Vote
              0  
            • Avatar of Martin Showell Martin Showell said on

              Catherine: What I mean is that neither the Liberals not the conservatives want to campaign on this “issue” – it is too divisive and a no win regardless of the party or which side you are on. Even though the ‘standard’ thinking is that conservatives have this hidden agenda to outlaw abortion, the facts do not support that notion. Too many conservative women would vote against the conservatives. Stephen Harper has repeatedly, and on the record, said that the conservative party will not introduce or support any such legislation. And too many members of their own caucus are openly pro-choice. Similarly, if the LPC campaigns against “pro-life” then we lose a large sector of our supports. It’s a no win for both sides, and the issue, from a political point of view, is best left where it is.

              Unfortunately that leaves Canada with no enforceable laws concerning abortion and no laws concerning the rights of the fetus. Don’t they have any? Should late-term abortion be allowed? Should women be allowed to abort a fetus because they don’t like the sex of it? Tough questions that pro-choicers need to ask themselves.

              So, if we are willing to have the discussion then why should that discussion not take place in a parliamentary committee? Again, what are we afraid of? Stephen Woodworth has not put forward a bill or even a motion to actually change any laws – just to discuss them and try to arrive at a consensus (good luck with that btw Stephen).

              I think he might have made more headway if instead of opening a discussion about when human life starts, he started with a discussion about fetal rights.

              Vote
                0  
              • Avatar of Catherine Wilkie Catherine Wilkie said on

                You and I differ on this important discussion.

                It isn’t an ‘issue’ in my opinion.

                It is a woman’s right to choose what is right for her own body.

                Vote
                  0  
  2. Avatar of Jonathan Scott Jonathan Scott said on

    The UofT Liberals call on the Prime Minister to oppose this abortion bill. Read our letter here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/uoftliberals/doc/226734607433027/

    Vote
      0  
    • Avatar of Martin Showell Martin Showell said on

      FYI…The UofT Liberals group on facebook is a “closed” group. Therefore most of people on this site are not able to view the letter you refer to.

      Vote
        0  
  3. Avatar of Zafar Iqbal Zafar Iqbal said on

    Re-criminalizing abortion is voilation of human right therefore it is not acceptable. NDP leader Tom Mulcair should not force his MPs as this action is also against the transparent parliament democracy.

    Vote
      0  
  4. Avatar of Catherine Wilkie Catherine Wilkie said on

    Jarek makes a valid point. I HOPE that our Liberal Members of Parliament do not require a whipped vote to respect a woman’s right to choose.

    I will be watching the vote.

    Vote
      0  
    • Avatar of André Brisebois André Brisebois said on

      Hi Catherine,
      Just to clarify: there will not be a vote tonight. Tonight will be the first hour of debate, then the motion drops down to the bottom of the order of precedence. The next likely date for the second hour of debate will be approximately on the week of June 6. The vote is most likely not until June 13th.
      This said, this is ALL SUBJECT TO CHANGE (bold and underlined!) since it is difficult to accurately predict how exactly an issue like this will play out in the House of Commons. So please consider this only as a potential scenario. The only certainty is that there will not be a vote since there needs to be at least two readings.

      Vote
        0  
      • Avatar of Catherine Wilkie Catherine Wilkie said on

        Andre: Thanks for the context.

        I will be watching the debate.

        Vote
          0  
  5. Avatar of Martin Showell Martin Showell said on

    In your previous post Catherine, you said “it IS an issue” – so I am confused and not sure I understand what you mean.

    And, I’ll ask again, do you believe that it is a women’s choice to terminate a pregnancy, let’s say, 30 seconds before delivery of a healthy child? How about just before the feet clear the birth canal – but the head is already out? Is that ok? Do you believe it should be a women’s choice to terminate a pregnancy because she wants a boy baby and not a girl baby?

    To simply fall back on “It is a woman’s right to choose what is right for her own body” is over-simplifying a complicated medical, ethical, moral and for many, religious question.

    I am not saying I disagree – I too am pro-choice … but I am also pro-life. Difficult position. For years I have simply accepted that the choice is not mine to make – so why bother thinking about it. Now I wonder if maybe I’m actually just avoiding the tough questions, maybe we need to have a discussion about fetal rights. But I’m not sure…how do you feel about the above questions Catherine? Here’s another one…is it acceptable for a women to decide to carry to term but throughout the pregnancy to intentionally poison the fetus, knowing full well that she will give birth to a physically and mentally damaged child?

    Vote
      0  
    • Avatar of Catherine Wilkie Catherine Wilkie said on

      ‘A Liberal government would continue to fight for the full equality of women, including addressing pay equity, supporting women’s groups and fighting for reproductive rights on the world stage. And in opposition, we carry on this work every day.’

      An entry by Bob Rae today clarifies the position of the LPC.

      I am still interested in what our elected representatives believe.

      Vote
        0  
      • Avatar of Martin Showell Martin Showell said on

        I am interested too Catherine. As you don’t seem to want to answer my questions about fetal rights, late-term and gender based abortion, perhaps Mr Rae will comment on these questions.

        Mr. Rae:
        1) Does the liberal party support late-term abortion and gender based abortion?

        2) Is the Liberal party willing to investigate the concept of fetal rights?

        Vote
          0  
  6. Avatar of Catherine Churchill Catherine Churchill said on

    The premise that a decision regarding reproduction can be made by someone other than the woman who is directly involved is not acceptable. I strongly support a woman’s right to choose.

    This does not mean that we cannot explore this issue; the exploration might contribute to a woman’s decision or not, the real issue is that she alone has the right to make the choice. This is not territory for legislation. The moral and ethical issues are for women to come to grips with and have colour their decisions.

    I do not want this matter to be one for any legislature regardless of their position.

    Vote
      0  
    • Avatar of Martin Showell Martin Showell said on

      I don’t disagree – it is ultimately always the women’s choice. No other person or governing body can, or should try to, force a women to carry a fetus to term.

      Having said that, if the abortion is purely a reproductive choice, there is no health risk to either the women or the fetus and if it is not a case of rape or sexual abuse i.e. the abortion is being used as a method of birth control – should provincial health care cover the cost?

      Just wondering what your opinion is…

      Vote
        0  
  7. Avatar of James Mills James Mills said on

    If Members of Parliament want to open up this debate again they have the Right to do so. The Liberal Party of Canada, on the basis of the human rights of women, supports abortion as a matter of individual conscience. However, there is no reason, and no right, silence debate.

    Vote
      0  

Join the conversation

You might also be interested in:
Liberals unmask Conservative agenda: Harper will turn back the clock on women’s rights