OTTAWA, Ontario, May 23, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – While Prime Minister Stephen Harper and mainstream media have said that Canadians do not want to reopen the abortion debate, MPs have presented the government with more than 70 petitions from constituents since January that say otherwise.
The petitioners are asking the government to condemn the practice of sex-selective abortions.
One MP, LaVar Payne, rose in the house in March to present a petition that he says was signed by over 500 constituents. Another, MP Bev Shipley, earlier this month presented a petition signed with “hundreds and hundreds of names.”
Shipley told the House that the petitioners “point out that sex selection has been condemned by all national political parties and that 92% of Canadians believe that-sex selective pregnancy termination should be illegal, and therefore Parliament needs to condemn this worst form of discrimination against females.”
Earlier this week MP Ray Boughen (Palliser, SK) rose in the House to present another petition. “Mr. Speaker, my final petition is from residents of Moose Jaw,” he said. “The petitioners state that the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada oppose sex selection. Millions of girls have been lost through sex-selective pregnancy termination. The petitioners ask Parliament to condemn this form of discrimination against females.”
The issue of sex-selective abortion in Canada hit the spotlight last January when Dr. Rajendra Kale, then-editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, showcased research that revealed female feticide “is in fact taking place in Canada”. He called the country to combat the practice in the Asian immigrant population by prohibiting health professionals from disclosing a child’s sex until 30 weeks gestation, when, he said, “an unquestioned abortion is all but impossible.”
Then in September, MP Mark Warawa (Langley, B.C.) filed Motion 408 that called on the House to condemn the practice. Warawa’s motion never came to a vote after a parliamentary committee deemed his motion non-votable in March. Critics interpreted the move as part of an ongoing joint effort by the Conservative government and the Opposition to keep anything abortion-related out of Parliament.
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A poll released last month conducted by Abingdon Research showed political leaders to be out of sync with the majority of Canadians on the issue of sex-selective abortion. As many as 87 percent of Canadians think that gender-selection abortion is wrong. More than 25 percent of them say that sex-selection abortions are happening right in their own communities. The poll’s results align with previous surveys on the issue. A 2011 Environics poll found that 92 percent of Canadians wanted sex-selective abortions banned.
Earlier this month an estimated 25,000 people filled the Parliament Hill grounds for the annual March for Life to advocate for justice for the unborn. Their message: “It’s a Girl! should not be a death sentence.”
Outspoken pro-life MP Leon Benoit said last week that if Warawa’s motion had come to a vote and passed then he would not be put in a position to continue petitioning Parliament on the matter. Benoit has submitted as many as 10 petitions this year on behalf of constituents against the practice of sex-selective abortion.
Only Conservative MPs have thus far submitted petitions from constituents against the practice.
MPs who have presented petitions: (Note: MPs who present consitutuent petitions often do not agree with the contents of such petitions. They are often simply following through on the duty of a riding MP to constituent requests)
Ray Boughen (Palliser, SK)
Joy Smith (Kildonan—St. Paul, MB)
Mark Warawa (Langley, BC)
Blaine Calkins (Wetaskiwin, AB)
Leon Benoit (Vegreville—Wainwright, AB)
Stephen Woodworth (Kitchener Centre, ON)
Harold Albrecht (Kitchener—Conestoga, ON)
Bev Shipley (Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON)
Merv Tweed (Brandon—Souris, MB)
Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK)
Randy Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC)
John Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC)
David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK)
Mark Strahl (Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC)
Cathy McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
Gary Schellenberger (Perth—Wellington, ON)
LaVar Payne (Medicine Hat, AB)
Dave Van Kesteren (Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON)
Colin Mayes (Okanagan—Shuswap, BC)
James Bezan (Selkirk—Interlake, MB)
Royal Galipeau (Ottawa—Orléans, ON)
Jeff Watson (Essex, ON)
Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead, AB)
Bob Zimmer (Prince George—Peace River, BC)
Erin O'Toole (Durham, ON)
Kyle Seeback (Brampton West, ON)
Mike Wallace Burlington, ON
Rod Bruinooge Winnipeg South, MB