Patrick Craine


‘Pro-choice’ Tory says he will vote for Woodworth’s pro-life motion

Patrick Craine

OTTAWA, Sept. 25th, 2012 ( – As Parliamentarians prepare to vote Wednesday on Stephen Woodworth’s pro-life motion, some opponents are raising concern over recent cracks in the wall of opposition to the measure.

A day after Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced he was breaking ranks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to support the motion, a self-described “pro-choice” Tory has announced he also will vote for it.

Brent Rathgeber, the MP for Edmonton-St. Albert, says that while he is “both Pro-Choice and Pro-Life” because he has no desire to “impose” his personal belief in the value of life on others, he believes Parliament has a duty to address abortion because it failed to do so after the 1988 R. v. Morgentaler decision.

“My feelings on the abortion issue are complex and have evolved over time,” Rathgeber wrote Tuesday on his blog. “I have strong libertarian values, which would suggest that I should be comfortable allowing a woman to control her own body.  However, family members, who have struggled with reproductive challenges, have taught me the intrinsic value and preciousness of human life.”

“For the reproductively challenged, an unwanted pregnancy is inconceivable, as they languish in queue for years in order to adopt an ‘unwanted child’,” he added.

Rathgeber says that if the abortion issue were indeed “settled” as abortion campaigners allege, then it should “remain so” because of the debate’s divisiveness. But he argues that, far from settling the issue, the 1988 Supreme Court decision that struck down Canada’s 1969 abortion law left a “vacuity in Canadian law” that Parliament “must address.”

“The Court expressly invited Parliament to draft an abortion law that was fair, reasonable and consistently applied across the country,” he explains.

“Canadians are perhaps unique among western democracies in that we have neither sanctions nor regulations approving abortion or the rights of fetuses,” he continued. “The void in Canadian law means there are currently NO LEGAL restrictions regulating the process.  Theoretically, a very late term procedure, if performed, would not attract criminal sanction.”

“Parliament must do what the Supreme Court invited it to do in 1988: fill a vacuity in Canadian law, no matter how divisive and polarizing that debate will be,” he concludes.

Motion 312 proposes to set up a special committee to re-examine section 223 of Canada’s Criminal Code, which stipulates that a child only becomes a human being once he or she has fully proceeded from the womb.

It is opposed by all party leaders, and reports have indicated that the Prime Minister’s Office has pressured Conservative MPs to vote against it, though the Government Whip has confirmed that it will be a free vote for both backbench MPs and Ministers.

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