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"Focus on the Born": Image from a demonstration against Bill C-484, The Unborn Victims of Crime Act
When it became clear that an imminent election was in the stars, Harper distanced himself from the widely opposed Bill C-484, The Unborn Victims of Crime Act.
Now infamous, Bill C-484 was a private member bill introduced by Ken Epp (MP for Edmonton Sherwood Park, Alberta). It assigned legal personhood to unborn fetuses (in contravention of the Criminal Code). It was denounced by the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC), and other feminist organizations, as "an unconstitutional infringement on women’s rights." Similar laws are used in the United States to criminalize pregnant women who use drugs or alcohol for endangering the fetus, or to prosecute those who help them seek abortions.
While Epp refused to drop the Bill, which had passed its second reading, Harper vowed not to reopen the "debate" on abortion. (A promise, incidentally, that he has made before, during the 2004 election, and again in January 2005.)
But does that mean that reproductive rights are no longer an election issue?
Quite the opposite, according to the ARCC. Harper has said that he would not block private member bills about abortion (like C-484) in future.
In fact, on this issue, he has said he would lift tight party discipline and allow a free vote. Considering that the vast majority (74%) of current Conservative MPs are anti-choice, a majority Conservative Government could easily pass an anti-abortion bill into law.
Consider the following facts, largely culled from yesterday's press release issued by the ARCC:
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.