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ESSEX, Ontario, 4 March, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A pro-life MP is not backing down on his decision to run an abortion-related survey on his website after the director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) accused him of being “dishonest” and “defamatory” in representing her position.

“[The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada] has decided to take issue on the question on whether I’ve summarized their position appropriately,” MP Jeff Watson (Essex) told LifeSiteNews.com.

Watson said that he posted the survey to his website six months ago when MP Woodworth’s Motion 312 was being discussed.  Motion 312 would have struck a committee to examine evidence for calling life in the womb “human”.

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Visitors to Watson’s homepage encounter the following statement: “Recently, as parliament debated M-312 to establish a committee to re-examine Canada's 400 year-old law defining a human being, the founder and Executive Director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada called fully taxpayer-funded abortion, at any time, for any reason – including for sex-selection or as birth control – a basic woman's right.”

Survey takers can choose one of five options, the first being support for “fully taxpayer-funded abortion, at any time in the pregnancy, for any reason at all” and the last being support for a “complete ban on abortion”.

When LifeSiteNews.com first reported this story a week ago, a few days after MetroNews drew attention to the survey, the pro-abortion option was held by 76 percent of 3,392 pollsters. Only 10 percent supported a complete ban on abortion.

As of this writing, the tables have turned with 50 percent of 11,467 pollsters supporting a complete ban on abortion and 36 percent supporting the alternative option. An additional 6 percent support “creative policy options” to help women with an unexpected pregnancy. An additional 5 percent want to see some form of “legal restrictions on access to abortion”.

But Joyce Arthur, ARCC director, has accused Watson of getting her position wrong.

“I do not and have never said what Jeff Watson claims I did in his survey. He has misleadingly tried to distill my position and put it into his own anti-choice frame,” wrote Arthur, under the comments section of the MetroNews story. ARCC’s Facebook page has confirmed that the comments are genuine. 

Arthur continued: “In fact, I have never claimed to support abortion at any time for any reason. My position is that abortions after 20 weeks are rare in Canada and only available for women in dire circumstances, primarily lethal fetal abnormalities but also if the woman's life is in danger. Second, I have never claimed to support sex-selection abortion; in fact I have said that no-one likes sex-selection abortion, including pro-choice people.” 

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Arthur then clarified her position on abortion: “My position however, is that pro-choice means supporting a woman's right to have an abortion for her own reasons, whether or not we agree with them”.

Pro-life blogger Suzanne Fortin criticized Arthur for playing with words. 

“Have you ever seen such a blatant case of projection? She says he's putting spin on her words, when she's putting spin on his.”

Fortin pointed out that Arthur’s claim of support for a “woman's right to have an abortion for her own reasons” means in effect that she supports abortion “for any reason at all, at any time.”

“If that's your position on abortion, then wear it, Joyce Arthur. Don't run from your convictions.”

Watson told LifeSiteNews.com that he posted the survey because of his interest in understanding Canadians who identify themselves as “pro-choice”. He said that in talking with pro-choice Canadians, he found that most erroneously believe that there are some laws in place that restrict who can have abortions and for what reasons. With the survey, he wanted to find out if their “concept of pro-choice align[s] with that of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada.”

“What I’m finding, in probing their position, is that they are actually really ‘pro-restriction’ of some form. They may agree that there should be an option for abortion, but the way they define a woman’s right to abortion would be much narrower than that of the Abortion Rights Coalition,” he said. 

Polls have found that the majority of Canadians are not comfortable with the status quo of abortion in Canada. An Angus Reid poll last year showed that 51 percent of Canadians believe there should be laws dealing with the country’s unrestricted access to abortion, and 60 percent of Canadians believe Ottawa should enact a law outlining whether a woman can abort her child based solely on his or her gender.

Prime Minister Harper has stated on numerous occasions his opposition toward any attempt to debate abortion. 

However, many pro-life Conservative MPs such as Brad Trost, Mark Warawa (with his Motion 408 to condemn sex-selective abortion), Steven Woodworth (with his Motion 312 to examine the humanity of the unborn), and Maurice Vellacott (for honouring pro-life heroines Linda Gibbons and Mary Wagner with Diamond Jubilee medals) are refusing to toe the party line on the issue of abortion. 

Watson said that even though the final result of his abortion survey is “useless” from a scientific perspective, the “discussion is still important.”

“If the discussion can’t be in Parliament, then let’s continue having it somewhere. Because this is a valuable discussion. We need to form some kind of a consensus among the public opinion on this one.” 

“I don’t accept the pro-abortion side that says it’s a settled issue and Canadians already have their minds made up, because when you encounter Canadians, do they really hold a pro-choice position or do they hold a much narrower definition of what constitutes a woman’s choice,” said Watson.

Watson, who himself is adopted and who has adopted children of his own, said that abortion “is an issue of concern for me.”

“Let me be clear about that: The status quo is not acceptable,” he said. 

When LifeSiteNews asked Watson how he thinks unborn children slated for abortion in Canada would vote on his survey, he responded: “And there is the important question, right? They don’t get to choose, they don’t get a voice at this particular point on something like a poll.” 

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