Abortion: the Chamber rejects a motion that reaffirms the free choice of women

Emilie Bergeron, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – A Bloc motion reaffirming a woman’s “free choice” to have an abortion or not was rejected in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

The deputy leader of the House of the bloc, Christine Normandin, tried to obtain the unanimous consent of the House of Commons to pass this motion, but the objections were immediately heard.

According to what Ms Normandin later said in a scrum to the press, “it was a rather resounding ‘no’ from the conservative banks”.

In Quebec, the National Assembly unanimously adopted a motion in support of American women, proclaiming their right to abortion.

During questioning in the House of Commons, MP Normandin asked Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland if she could guarantee that the federal government would continue to protect women’s right to abortion.

“We have to keep fighting because a single moment of inattention can take us back decades,” said the elected member of the Bloc.

Ms Freeland replied that the government is committed “to protecting women’s right to choose, a fundamental right.” The exchange was followed by thunderous applause in the Chamber.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was not in the House, tweeted that “the right to choose is a women’s right, period.” He assured that his government will continue “to protect and promote the rights of women in Canada and around the world”.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday morning, Conservative lawmakers and senators received a note asking them to refrain from commenting on US news stemming from a leaked US Supreme Court document.

Be that as it may, Conservative MP Gérard Deltell did not hesitate to say that any setback in the United States, in his view, would have no repercussions in Canada. “It’s a question that was resolved nearly 50 years ago in Canada and it’s a good thing,” he told reporters before moving on to question period.

“A woman’s right to decide whether or not to have an abortion is up to her 100%,” he added before dismissing any notion that the issue of abortion could take up a lot of space in her party’s race to lead.

New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh is also not afraid of a withdrawal of the right to abortion in Canada, but at a press conference he stressed that he wants better access to it.

Mr. Singh recalled the case of a clinic in Frederiction, New Brunswick, which was denied provincial funding for years.

Faced with this type of situation, it is clear in the eyes of the NDP leader that the federal government must use the Canada Health Act, which sets out the terms and conditions relating to medical transfers paid to provinces.

“If a provincial government doesn’t fully fund health care, the government has (this) tool to take out the funding, to take it away until it starts (funding) all health services,” he said.

Last summer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was withholding funds for New Brunswick because the provincial government refused to fund the Fredericton abortion clinic.

New Brunswick law prohibits government funding of abortions performed in locations other than three approved hospitals.

When asked about the use of the Canada Health Act, the Minister of Justice, David Lametti, replied that this could be part of a reflection to better protect the right to abortion.

“The decision (Morgentaler) is solid, so the position is solid in Canada, but, all the same, we might think about it,” he said in a scrum.

According to Ms Normandin, it is clear that what is happening in the United States will have an encouraging effect on groups wishing to restrict access to abortion in Canada. “The lobbies are extremely powerful. They are equipped. They have money. So, in this context, there is no border (…) at the level of lobbying, money and advertising ”, she commented.

– With information from Stéphanie Taylor and Jocelyne Richer

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