Justin Trudeau and abortion

The Liberal leader takes a position on votes in the House


The Liberal leader’s statement yesterday that Liberal candidates will be expected to support the party’s pro-choice position in any vote in the House of Commons seems like a logical extension of his statement a year ago that MPs would be expected to support a pro-choice position.

A Liberal source clarifies for me that individuals who consider themselves pro-life can still run for the party, so long as they are committed, if elected, to vote against anything that might restrict abortion.

As I wrote a year ago, we might now have a situation in which all three party leaders basically agree on this issue—or at least in which all three party leaders have degrees of the same position. The NDP is steadfast in its pro-choice position and apparently won’t allow anyone with an anti-abortion position to run under the party banner. And the Prime Minister has promised that his government will not support reopening the abortion debate.

Conservative backbenchers might conceivably try to engage the issue, but the last attempt to put a motion before the House on the matter was blocked.

The issue of grandfathering anti-abortion/pro-life MPs into Mr. Trudeau’s new paradigm complicates matters for him slightly, but perhaps not by much. When Stephen Woodworth’s Motion 312 reached the floor of the House in May 2012, only four Liberals supported it, and only three of those MPs remain in the House. Liberal MP Sean Casey is pro-life, but he voted against Motion 312 in deference to his constituents.

At the time of Mr. Woodworth’s motion, Jeff Jedras called for the Liberal caucus to be whipped and presumably his argument could be applied now as well.

So despite all the bluster from the party about how Harper is out to strip women of their rights and how we think that’s fundamentally wrong, we’re going to allow Liberal MPs to vote to do just that. So how can we take any of this activity from the party seriously?

If this issue is as fundamentally important as Liberal messaging makes it out to be (and I believe it is), why is the party not whipping this vote? If Harper not killing a private members bill is evidence he supports it, what does it say when the Liberal leadership lets its members vote for it? How are we any different?

This issue is triply fraught as both a matter of personal belief, a matter of individual rights and a matter of parliamentary democracy and you could have a long discussion about how to balance those three interests. In theory, free votes are a compelling idea. In theory, a party having a set of principles it is committed to is a useful idea. In practice, votes of conscience have often been considered free votes. All you have to do is figure out how to balance those three things.

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Justin Trudeau and abortion

  1. So the vapid hair is planning on introducing a private members bill on abortion?

    Little dictators like Justin never last, what an idiot.

    He will be the final nail in the coffin of the once “natural ruling party”, now “da turd pardi”.

    • Where do you get the idea he is planning any such thing?

    • Keith, I enjoy Justin’s respect for women in having a CHOICE with their own bodies. Generally, I find those that support women being governed by religious and statism to be rather low life in that they do not respect other peoples rights of choice when it affects them not.

      Zealotry putting down the rights of women’s choice is a mental disorder. Some call it misogyny hidden in religion and statism. Ever notice how there are no women Imams or Cardinals? How hard women had to fight for section 28 of the charter with Ottawa and provincial free and Scottish Right masons?

      Politics and religion are cut from the same cloth, blind followers are a ignorant bunch.

      • Dave: Did you mean to reply to one of my other comments? In the one above, I was asking Billy Bob how he managed to read Wherry’s article and interpret to mean Trudeau is planning private member’s bill on abortion.

        As to your comment itself: Your last line is definitely true for some in each group you name. A Liberal Party that sets a dogma and refuses to accept anyone with a differing opinion definitely fall under that umbrella.

        In an earlier article on this site re Trudeau’s policy on abortion, it sounded like the Libs would reject potential candidates even if they PERSONALLY believed abortion is wrong but did not want to pass a law to force their beliefs on others. I thought that too stringent; too “groupthink”. A healthy party is one with a diversity of views and backgrounds within its ranks. A party of Yes bobbleheads gives us another CPC. That’s not a party I want to vote for – let alone join.

        I do agree with JT that we do not want to restrict abortion; I am pro-choice. For more on that, see below. But I do understand and sympathize with those who are pro-life. I think it unwise to simply ignore them, stick your fingers in your ears and loudly chant LALALALA whenever they are around. Particularly if you are the leader of a political party. They will respect you – and your views – more if you take the time to listen, and then explain why you disagree.

        • KB, I was just asking a question…..see the question mark at the end of the sentence?

  2. The funny thing about most of these pro-life women and their male partners is, most of them who pound the pavement everyday to protest a womens pro-right issues, take ” The Pill ” when needed to stay away from being pregnant, and i’ll bet the male partner of pro-lifers insist on it, and all the faithful and mighty too, take ” The Pill ” when needed to prevent pregnancy. That’s what makes this pro-life agenda so hypocritical.

    • I meant pro-life instead of pro-right, sorry..

    • Many pro-life advocates oppose using any form of contraception. It is officially against Roman Catholic doctrine, for example. So you shouldn’t make blanket assumptions.

      But I agree, there is often much hypocrisy. On both sides. Two of my favourite examples:

      * Many pro-life advocates are also the very people who shame unwed mothers into seeking abortions in the first place. If they weren’t so judgmental, more women might choose to keep the child (this was more true in earlier decades, but still true to a degree even now).

      * Many pro-choice advocates (often people who mock fundamentalists for their Creationist views) insist that a fetus is not alive [or human, depending on the individual] – despite the fact that this flies completely in the face of basic biology. Ignoring reality weakens, not strengthens, their position. There are plenty of sound reasons to support a pro-choice stance without making idiotic, patently false claims such as this one.

      So hypocrisy is not a one-way street :-)

      • Your telling me pro-lifers don’t use any forms of contraceptive, now that is the joke of the day. Why do you think there is low population in Canada today, and its not because of the pope, its because of contraception, not because of faith, faith dosnt prevent birth control. What planet are you living on my friend ? O K, so the catholic church dosnt accept gays into the church and dosnt accept gay relationships, does that mean gay people don’t go to church and are not allowed in the same places of worship because the RC church says its not acceptable. I live by the constitution, not the bible, that’s the problem with most of these fanatics. You are the hypocrite as well as the churches. Theirs an old saying I always heard when I was growing up, and I think you need an education about people in life, what the eyes don’t see, the heart don’t feel and that’s how most of society works today. Don’t be so Pius my friend.

        • I’m telling you SOME don’t. Of those who feel strongly enough to be out actively protesting, I’m guessing the numbers not using birth control would be quite high compared to the general population.

          Others may be selective in their choices. Bear in mind that a true contraceptive prevents conception – i.e. the fertilization of the egg – so a condom, for example, may prevent life from forming but does not prevent the implantation or development once conception occurs.

          So depending on the type of birth control used, no life is taken because none exists until fertilization. Life prevented – not ended; a definite distinction that will carry moral weight for some people.

          Thus, a pro-lifer could, in fact, use true contraceptives without being a hypocrite for opposing abortions.

          Also, please don’t conflate abortion with contraception (as it sounds to me like you are doing so) – they are two very different things.

          You also seem to be assuming I’m pro-life. I’m actually pro-choice. I do, however, think society should do a better job educating its citizens on sexuality, birth control, and personal responsibility, as I think we treat abortion far too casually. It is NOT a contraception; it is the ending of a pregnancy. The deliberate choice to end a life at its earliest stages. Not something to be taken lightly.

          Abortion should be available as a last resort – but we should be doing everything in our power to prevent the need for abortions in the first place. So – pro-choice, but not casually, flippantly so.

          So please – do not make simple-minded, negative assumptions about people on either side of the debate. Yes, there are hypocrites in both camps. Yes, some have given little thought as to why they are in a given camp. For many people, though, their stance on this issue comes after much study and soul-searching. Learn some facts, and show some respect.

        • Are you talking about the same RC church that Justin Trudeau worships at?

      • My assumption is right on. In a world of promiscuity, what the eyes don’t see, the heart don’t feel, and there are millions of other religions that don’t jive with the RC doctrine that are pro-life, and I think some of these people are called moderate worshippers and believers, they believe in the philosophy but don’t always practice it. so im not a hypocrite.

        • Did I call you a hypocrite? Not unless you fall into the category of pro-choice advocates who insist on the ludicrous belief that biologists are wrong about what constitutes life. And if you are one of those, then the shoe fits.

          I’m pro-choice myself [though I wish people would (a) take more care to prevent unwanted pregnancies to begin with, and (b) be much more thoughtful about making that choice than some are; there are those who see it as synonymous with contraception], but I think those who are unwilling to acknowledge the fact that an abortion IS the ending of a human life at its earliest stages are dangerously self-delusional.

  3. Thank you for this clarification. It seemed stupid to me that Trudeau would not be able to separate personal views from political action. There could be many potentially good candidates who personally disagree with abortion but who would not want to use legislation to push their views onto society as a whole; your earlier article made it sound like they too would be banned from running.

  4. Mr. Wherry don’t forget your celebration of the back bench MP’s when they rose up against Harper’s attempt to stifle their debate on this contentious issue. Don’t disappoint us now and tell us you think the rules have changed because Justin Trudeau is suppressing free speech. By that I mean…what are Liberals to do who believe in the pro-life movement and are looking for MP’s that will be allowed to vote their conscience should a debate (however unlikely) arise in the HOC? You demeaned Harper for stopping the debate and many (Liberals on this board) supported you even though they are pro-choice as I am.

  5. Good to see someone stick up for women in Ottawa. As women are not property slaves of government and/or religion. Not in this country anyways. The religious-statism bullies need to be put down on this, pro-choice is the only socially evolved choice.

    If the Neanderthal religions want kids? Adopt one from the millions of people having babies they can’t afford to raise. Put your money where your mouth is and adopt kids that don’t have much of a future and do it on your own dime. Stop being hypocrite religious bullies.

    If Ottawa wants more domestic future taxpayers, babies, tax us less as we are too busy supporting government children to have our own. Most young adults are NOT buying family homes of mostly taxes and debt, and buying single bed/studio condos instead. The new standard, more government and less for the people who support it.

    Even as a small c conservative, I am beginning to like Trudeau’s maturity in this and a few other matters.

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