OTTAWA, Ontario, December 15, 2010 ( – Prime Minister Stephen Harper today voted against Bill C-510, a private members bill seeking to ban abortion coercion.  The bill failed 97-178 in a second reading vote this afternoon.

Harper had opposed the bill since it was first introduced by Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge in April.  The PM had said he would “oppose any attempt to create a new abortion law.”

Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, said Harper was “crazy” to show up and vote against the bill and called it a “political miscalculation.”  “Whoever advised him didn’t do him any service,” he said.

Bruinooge told the House in the debate on Monday that “mothers should never have to make a choice between protecting themselves or the child they love.”

A vote against the bill, he said, “will be seen as a choice to turn a blind eye to a horrible injustice.”

Abortion proponents labeled it “a front to attack a woman’s right to choose” and argued that it aimed to bring in restrictions on abortion through the back door

Known as Roxanne’s Law, it was named after Roxanne Fernando, a Manitoba woman whose boyfriend attempted to coerce her into having an abortion after she became pregnant in 2007.  After refusing to have the unborn child killed, Roxanne was beaten and left to die in a snow bank.

The bill had gained wide support among religious and pro-life organizations, including the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the Canadian Bishops’ Catholic Organization for Life and Family, and Priests for Life, among numerous others.

Campaign Life Coalition, the political arm of Canada’s pro-life movement, had called on MPs to pass the bill and send it to committee so that the language could be tightened up.  They expressed concern that certain clauses in the bill could be interpreted to frame abortion as a permissible option.

“For all the people that have argued all along that Mr. Harper is pro-life, perhaps this will show them once and for all that he isn’t, he doesn’t have a hidden agenda,” said Hughes.

He said they weren’t surprised the vote failed, and had only expected about 88 votes.  “Back to the drawing board.  Hopefully the next time we come up with something, we’ll have better results,” he said.