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Defend choice: defeat Motion 312

Jesse McLaren

March 28, 2012

Despite Prime Minister Harper’s reassurances that “we are not opening the abortion debate”, his government constantly attacks the right to choice. The latest attack is motion M-312, to be debated in Parliament in late April.

Tory MP Stephen Woodworth’s motion calls for “a special committee of the House be appointed and directed to review the declaration in Subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada which states that a child becomes a human being only at the moment of complete birth.” This Tory-dominated committee would try to give personhood to a fetus, in order to criminalize abortion.

As soon as abortion was legal in 1988 the Tories tried to recriminalize it, with Brian Mulroney’s government introducing Bill C-43 in 1990. The current Harper government is filled with anti-choice bigots (Immigration Minister Jason Kenney was an “anti-abortion activist” in his college years), who have relentlessly introduced anti-choice bills. In 2006 there was C-338 against abortions after 20 weeks, and C-291 the “unborn victims of violence” act; in 2008 there was C-484 the “unborn victims of crime” act; in 2010 there was C-510 against “coerced abortion”.

Harper has defunded countless women’s groups, introduced a “maternal health plan” that excludes abortion, and Tory Senator Ruth has told women’s groups to “shut the fuck up” on abortion. Meanwhile, anti-choice groups are trying to use the austerity agenda to defund abortion.

But Tories are operating from a position of weakness. Harper’s false reassurances come from a lack of confidence to take on the pro-choice movement, which has majority support across the country and a strong legacy.

Abortion rights were won with a grassroots campaign uniting women’s groups, trade unions, student groups and progressive faith groups—putting the demand for legal abortion into a broader context of reproductive choice and equality. We need a similar unity, amongst the 99%, to defend a woman’s right to chose against the Tory’s latest attack.

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