Harper’s Reassurances About Abortion “Don’t Mean a Thing”

For immediate release

Harper’s stated position that the Conservative Party will not support or initiate abortion legislation if it forms the next government does not mean that abortion rights will be safe, according to Canada’s national pro-choice group, the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC-CDAC). “The Conservatives can and will act to restrict abortion rights. Harper’s reassurances don’t mean a thing,” said Joyce Arthur, a BC spokesperson for ARCC-CDAC.

During the 2004 election campaign, Harper specifically said that abortion legislation would not be tabled in his government’s first term. Indeed, during this current campaign, he said he doesn’t want “this parliament” to have an abortion debate, or have it in the “‘near future.”

“Harper’s statements and choice of language send a reassuring plea to his anti-abortion supporters to be patient—their chance will come,” said Carolyn Egan, an Ontario spokesperson for ARCC-CDAC. But Egan said that Canada’s national anti-abortion group, Campaign Life Coalition, is making plans to immediately start working with anti-choice MPs to outlaw abortion, starting by passing measures such as ending public funding for abortions and banning abortion pills.

Conservative Party president Don Plett has said that a backbencher MP would quickly introduce anti-abortion legislation if the Conservatives win the next government. Harper has said he will allow free votes on the abortion issue. “This means a private member’s bill to restrict abortion could pass, because Harper cannot control free votes,” said Arthur. “73% of the current Conservative caucus is anti-abortion, so a Conservative victory means that Parliament may have a majority of anti-abortion MPs, and a free vote on abortion has a real chance of passing.”

But there’s much more a Conservative government could do to restrict abortion besides pass laws, said Egan. “The Conservatives can appoint anti-abortion judges, Ministers, and bureaucrats. They can allow provinces to violate the Canada Health Act by not providing abortion services or not funding them. They can fund anti-abortion organizations and cut funding for family planning organizations.”

Detailed information: See our election webpage – www.arcc-cdac.ca/conservative-danger.html Press conference: January 20, 2pm EST, Morgentaler Clinic, 727 Hillsdale Avenue E, Toronto

Joyce ArthurPro-Choice Action Network, Vancouverjoycearthur@shaw.ca604-351-0867
Celia PosyniakKensington Clinic, Calgarycelia@kensingtonclinic.com403-283-9117
Dr. Suzanne NewmanMedical Director, Jane’s Clinic, Winnipegsnewman@cc.umanitoba.ca204-477-1887
Carolyn EganOntario Coalition for Abortion Clinics, Torontoc.egan@sympatico.ca416-969-8463
Catherine Megill
(elle parle français)
ARCC-CDAC, Montrealtrustwomen@yahoo.com514-486-9669
Judy Burwellformer director of the Morgentaler Clinic, Frederictoncheznous1@rogers.com506-460-8105 or 506-451-9060
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