Abortion Issues (March 2013)

I am pro-choice — the belief that the government has no place telling its citizens what they can do with their body. I support the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Morgentaler case, which clearly found the use of the federal government’s criminal law power to punish women and doctors for the exercise of what should be a matter of individual choice in a liberal democracy was unconstitutional and contrary to the Charter.  Furthermore, I believe national standards in health care should require that abortion is a covered procedure throughout Canada.

I certainly welcome people of all views and I support your right to make your own choices in your own life. But I don’t believe you have the right to make those choices for others. I think we should all work to make abortion more rare and less necessary, but I stand firmly behind the right to choose.

Mark Warawa’s resolution – March 2013

I have not been following the procedural debate surrounding Mr. Warawa’s private member’s resolution too closely. But generally speaking, I believe too much power has been centralized in the prime minister’s office at the expense of Parliament, and I have proposed several measures to return more power to Parliament and to MPs. For more, see my policy paper  “Restoring Power To Parliament.”

I would not support Mr. Warawa’s private member resolution. Among other things it is unclear to what legal and ethical measures the resolution might lead.  But I would be prepared to make the following arguments in a Parliamentary debate on the subject and would defend the member’s right to take an opposing view.

I certainly condemn sex-selection abortions. The issue is whether the government has a role to play in prohibiting them. I am coming from a strong, unambiguous pro-choice stance. But saying that I am pro-choice does not mean no ethical duties on doctors. Indeed, pro-choice supporters have never suggested that abortion should be completely unregulated by medical ethics.  A doctor need not and must not perform a procedure that is not in the best interests of the patient or where the patient’s choice is evidently determined by extreme outside pressure or duress.

Doctors should be aware of the outside pressure behind the patient’s choice for a sex-selection abortion and must comply with the letter and spirit of recently amended codes of ethics issued by provincial councils of physicians and surgeons regarding such procedures. However, a real world solution to ending sex-selection abortions should preserve or enhance the real capacity of women to choose, and it should not be subject to misuse by those who would like to bring the state back into the relationship between the woman and her doctor.