Saturday, May 5, 2012

Government Whip yields big stick

Asking for a study whether the unborn becomes a human being only at “complete birth” generates hostile response in Canadian Parliament

By Patricia Maloney

Conservative Member of Canadian Parliament Stephen Woodworth

In Canada there are no legal restrictions on abortion. None. Abortion is legal at any time throughout the nine months, for any reason, or for no reason.

So when on Thursday April 26, Conservative Member of Parliament Stephen Woodworth brought forward a motion in the House of Commons to simply ask for a committee to discuss when an unborn child becomes a human being, it really seemed like a legitimate request to ask our Parliament.

Simply put, Woodworth’s motion 312, was to ask “that a special committee of the House to be appointed and directed to review section 223(1) of our Criminal Code which states that a child becomes a human being only at the moment of complete birth…”

In other words, let’s talk about when an unborn child becomes a human being. This motion is not about enacting a law to prohibit abortion in any way. This motion is about a study; to discuss; to research; to debate. To, you know, participate in the democratic process.

Naturally we expected opposition from our two opposition parties, and we weren’t disappointed.

But it was the vociferous objections that came from Woodworth’s own party when Government Whip, Gordon O’Connor said:
The decision of whether or not to terminate a pregnancy is essentially a moral decision…in a free and democratic society, the conscience of the individual must be paramount and take precedence over that of the state…I cannot understand why those who are adamantly opposed to abortion want to impose their beliefs on others by way of the Criminal Code…There is no law that says that a woman must have an abortion. No one is forcing those who oppose abortion to have one…Whether one accepts it or not, abortion is and always will be part of society. There will always be dire situations in which some women may have to choose the option of abortion. No matter how many laws some people may want government to institute against abortion, abortion cannot be eliminated. It is part of the human condition.”

(In Canada the Whip is the MP responsible for ensuring party discipline among members of the Government caucus. In other words, the Whip carries a very big stick.)

No need to read between the lines here. Our Prime Minister has said many times he will never reopen the abortion debate. But for the Government Whip to come out with statements like this, implies that the government is going much further than simply remaining silent on the subject of abortion. This sounds like a pro-choice position to me.

You know, this is actually sort of funny, in a warped kind of way. This tells us that the Conservatives in Canada are really no different than our other parties on abortion policy.

So what happens next? Well, one more hour of debate in June, and then a vote later in the year to see if the study will take place.

Will any of our brave pro-life MPs be willing to vote for the Motion with the courage of their convictions? Or will they allow themselves to be whipped into shape? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Patricia Maloney is a Canadian pro-life blogger.

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