Appeal process has begun
By Deborah Gyapong
Canadian Catholic News
Pro-life and pro-family groups decry the March 21 decision by a parliamentary sub-committee to make Motion 408 condemning sex-selection pregnancy termination non-votable.
The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF), the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), LifeCanada and Weneedalaw.com were among the groups that deplored the decision of the Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business.
“We commend MP Mark Warawa for bringing forward this courageous motion that highlights the problem of sex-selection abortion that is taking place in Canada,” said COLF director Michele Boulva. “It is regrettable this motion to condemn a practice the vast majority of Canadians oppose could not even be debated in Parliament.”
“Gendercide abortion has caused serious population imbalances in countries like China and India where female fetuses are aborted in favor of male fetuses,” she said. “This motion would have shed some light on the negative effects which Canada's lack of any law limiting abortion has on the common good. Hopefully, Canadians will back Mr. Warawa as he appeals this decision -- another courageous move.”
Warawa reacted on Twitter to the surprise decision: “Members of PMB Sub-Committee broke rules today deeming #M408 unvoteable. Were they forced and by who? An appeal process has begun.”
"Canada prides itself on freedom of speech and elects men and women to parliament who have the courage to bring forward issues of concern to the Canadian people," said CLC national president Jim Hughes. "This is anti-democratic and a violation of MPs rights to be heard in parliament."
"Motion 408 calls for protection for women and girls. Who can be opposed to such a motion?" said CLC national organizer Mary Ellen Douglas. "Canada presents itself as being a defender of human rights here and around the world and yet our own MPs are not free to bring forward private members motions without being censured by their own Parliament."
“This was a non-binding motion, which simply asked that the House condemn a deplorable practice – that of sex-selection abortion,” said EFC legal counsel Faye Sonier. “Representatives from all political parties have condemned gendercide as well as 92% of Canadians, in a recent poll. And let’s be clear – this motion could not have, in anyway, criminalized the act itself.”
EFC vice president and general legal counsel Don Hutchinson said the decision warrants review. “Otherwise, this will be a lost opportunity to have a debate and a national discussion on a tragic practice that’s taking place in our country,” he said. “We hope, going forward, that we can have a democratic and respectful dialogue on this non-partisan issue.”
“We pray for civility and we urge Parliamentarians to address critical issues of the day, such gender discrimination. It is to address issues such as these that Parliament exists,” he said.
“It’s impossible to escape the thought that Canada’s MPs are afraid of a vote on sex-selection abortion and have resorted to a parliamentary trick to avoid declaring themselves,” said LifeCanada President Lisa Smith. “MPs know that the vast, vast majority of Canadians, 92% according to a 2011 Environics poll, oppose sex-selection abortions which almost always target girls. They know they should support Mark Warawa’s motion and condemn the practice,” said Smith.
“On the other hand, all the party leaders have declared they won’t support it so MPs feel they are in an impossible position. It’s particularly galling when those same leaders all condemned the practice after a CBC investigation reported that clinics were telling women the sex of the baby even when they knew it would lead to the deaths of the girl babies,” said Smith.
For some social conservatives, however, Prime Minister gets the blame. “Is the Prime Minister’s Office so dismissive of anything remotely connected to pre-born human rights that it will subvert democracy itself to avoid the discussion?” asked Weneedalaw.ca director Mike Schouten, citing Stephen Harper’s continued refusal to re-open the abortion debate.
Schouten said noted Prime Minister Harper had told the House of Commons 11 months ago he found it “unfortunate” MP Stephen Woodworth’s Motion 312 to set up a parliamentary committee to study the Criminal Code’s definition of a human being was deemed votable.
“The government may feel that they have effectively quashed Motion 408, but all indications are they have only set in motion a series of battles which could ultimately be settled by an appeal to the House which make a ruling by way of secret ballot,” said Schouten.