Asked about abortion, the average parliamentarian deploys one of three answers: a) defend a woman’s right to choose, and say little else; b) oppose abortion vehemently, and vocally, and publicly; or c) immediately run in the opposite direction. Justin Trudeau, the free-wheeling Liberal leader, isn’t the average parliamentarian. He decreed that Liberals are officially a pro-choice party, despite its historically mixed views on the subject. He said candidates in the next election would be expected to tow the line. Today, Trudeau told reporters that a bunch of guys in the House of Commons shouldn’t legislate away a woman’s right.
I don’t know that there’s anyone in this country that is in favour of abortions. But what I am very much in favour of is a woman’s right to make that determination on her own, in consultation with the medical community, in consultation with whoever she chooses to consult…It is not for a room full of predominantly male legislators to take away those rights from women.
Trudeau’s earlier comments found no fans in the Catholic establishment; indeed, they courted veiled threats from powerful clergy. His stridently pro-choice stance will undoubtedly repel a bunch of socially conservative voters (who were probably not Liberals, anyway). But today was no gaffe. Trudeau is as pro-choice a legislator as it gets, and he got there by rejecting the traditional terms of the debate—and forcing an issue most people avoid at all costs.
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