OTTAWA - The prime minister was among the majority of MPs that helped defeat a Conservative MP's pro-life motion Wednesday, but ten of Stephen Harper's ministers voted to keep the debate alive.
Public Works and Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose was among the members of cabinet who rose to vote in favour of Stephen Woodworth's private motion to study the definition of human being in the Criminal Code.
The motion was defeated by a vote of 203-91.
Harper had called Woodworth's motion "unfortunate," and in the spring said he would vote against it because of his party's electoral commitment to not re-open the debate on abortion.
But more than 80 Conservative MPs did not appear to view their vote as a contradiction to the election promise.
"It's unacceptable. Stephen Harper told us his government wasn't willing to reopen the debate and you have the minister in charge of the status of women voting (in favour)," said NDP MP Niki Ashton.
"At what point do the Conservatives consider women's equality a priority?"
This being a private member's motion, and an issue of conscience, MPs were allowed to make a personal decision on the vote. Four Liberal MPs also voted in favour of the motion that would have taken a look at when a child is declared a human being in the Criminal Code section on homicide.
Woodworth told reporters that he hoped his supporters would keep up the pressure on MPs.
"I hope that people all across Canada will really take to heart, will be moved to advocate that we enshrine in Canadian law the inherent worth and dignity of every human being," Woodworth said.
Currently, the Criminal Code defines a child as a human only after it emerges alive from the mother's body at birth.
Woodworth and his supporters point out that the landmark 1988 ruling confirming abortion rights in Canada also noted the potential need to protect unborn babies at some point during a pregnancy.
Woodworth's motion was used as a sort of political football, and not only in Ottawa.
Agnes Maltais, Quebec's status of women minister, sent a letter to all MPs from the province earlier Wednesday, reminding them that the national assembly as recently as April voted to protect abortion rights.
"You are representatives of Quebec elected to the House of Commons," she wrote. "I ask you to respect the will of the people of Quebec as expressed by the national assembly and therefore to vote against this motion."
The NDP has accused Harper of essentially putting abortion back on the table for debate through Woodworth's motion.
"Mr. Harper can't have it both ways,"said NDP Leader Tom Mulcair. "He can't claim that he's against reopening the abortion debate and having a sitting minister vote in favour of reopening the abortion debate.
"The two just can't be squared."
Still, Liberal Leader Bob Rae said allowing free votes on such matters is a venerable Commons tradition that must be respected.
"What we have achieved in Canada ... is, I think, a very powerful national consensus, and that is not unanimity but a consensus, and that is, that this is a matter that's better decided on an individual basis by a woman in consultation with whomever she chooses to consult," said Rae.
"I don't think that's going to change, I don't think tonight's vote is going to change that, I think it will be more of reflection of that consensus."
Rod Bruinooge, a Manitoba MP who once put forward his own pro-life motion, said Woodworth has already achieved part of his goal.
"It's caused a good discussion as to when life begins," said Bruinooge.
"I don't expect that it's going to pass, that's my honest viewpoint, but I think it's been a good discussion and I think that's really the net result that the member wanted to achieve."
How Canadian MPs voted on a private motion to study the definition of human being in the Criminal Code
Yea/Nay MP's Last Name yea
Adams nay Adler nay Aglukkaq nay
Alexander yea Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac) nay Allen (Welland) yea Allison yea Ambler yea Ambrose yea Anders yea Anderson nay Andrews nay Angus nay Armstrong nay Ashfield nay Ashton nay Aspin nay Atamanenko nay Aubin nay Ayala nay Baird nay Bateman nay Bélanger nay Bellavance nay Bennett yea Benoit nay Benskin yea Bergen nay Bernier nay Bevington yea Bezan nay Blanchette nay Blanchette-Lamothe nay Blaney yea Block nay Boivin nay Borg yea Boughen nay Boulerice nay Boutin-Sweet nay Brahmi nay Braid yea Breitkreuz nay Brison nay Brosseau yea Brown (Barrie) yea Brown (Leeds—Grenville) yea Brown (Newmarket—Aurora) yea Bruinooge nay Butt nay Byrne nay Calandra yea Calkins yea Cannan nay Carmichael nay Caron yea Carrie nay Casey nay Cash nay Charlton nay Chicoine nay Chisholm nay Chisu yea Chong nay Choquette nay Chow nay Christopherson yea Clarke nay Cleary nay Clement nay Comartin nay Côté nay Crowder nay Cullen nay Cuzner nay Daniel yea Davidson nay Davies (Vancouver East) nay Davies (Vancouver Kingsway) nay Day nay Dechert yea Del Mastro yea Devolin nay Dewar nay Dionne Labelle nay Doré Lefebvre yea Dreeshen nay Dubé nay Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona) nay Duncan (Etobicoke North) nay Duncan (Vancouver Island North) nay Dusseault nay Dykstra nay Easter nay Eyking yea Fantino yea Fast nay Findlay (Delta—Richmond East) nay Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk) nay Flaherty nay Fletcher nay Foote nay Freeman nay Fry yea Galipeau yea Gallant nay Garneau nay Garrison nay Genest nay Genest-Jourdain nay Giguère nay Gill nay Glover nay Godin nay Goguen yea Goldring nay Goodale nay
Goodyear nay Gosal nay Gourde nay Gravelle yea Grewal nay Groguhé nay Harper yea Harris (Cariboo—Prince George) nay Harris (Scarborough Southwest) nay Harris (St. John's East) nay Hassainia yea Hawn yea Hayes yea Hiebert yea Hillyer nay Hoback nay Holder nay Hsu nay Hughes nay Hyer nay Jacob yea James yea Jean yea Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission) yea Karygiannis nay Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's) nay Kellway yea Kenney (Calgary Southeast) nay Kent nay Kerr yea Komarnicki nay Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings) yea Lake yea Lamoureux nay Lapointe nay Larose nay Latendresse yea Lauzon nay Laverdière nay Lebel nay LeBlanc (Beauséjour) nay LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard) nay Leef nay Leitch yea Lemieux nay Leslie nay Leung nay Liu yea Lizon yea Lobb yea Lukiwski yea Lunney yea MacAulay nay MacKay (Central Nova) nay MacKenzie nay Mai nay Marston nay Martin nay Masse nay Mathyssen nay May yea Mayes nay McCallum yea McColeman nay McGuinty yea McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood) nay McLeod nay Menegakis nay Menzies yea Merrifield nay Michaud yea Miller nay Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue) yea Moore (Fundy Royal) nay Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam) nay Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord) nay Morin (Laurentides—Labelle) nay Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine) nay Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot) nay Mourani nay Mulcair nay Murray nay Nantel nay Nash nay Nicholls nay Nicholson yea Norlock nay Nunez-Melo nay Obhrai nay O'Connor yea O'Neill Gordon yea Opitz nay Pacetti nay Papillon nay Paradis nay Patry yea Payne nay Péclet yea Penashue nay Perreault nay Pilon nay Plamondon yea Poilievre nay Preston nay Quach nay Rae nay Raitt yea Rajotte yea Rathgeber nay Ravignat nay Raynault nay Regan nay Reid nay Rempel nay Richards nay Rickford yea Ritz nay Rousseau nay Sandhu nay Saxton nay Scarpaleggia nay Schellenberger nay Scott yea Seeback nay Sellah nay Sgro yea Shea yea Shipley nay Shory nay Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor) nay Sims (Newton—North Delta) nay Sitsabaiesan nay Smith nay Sopuck yea Sorenson nay Stanton nay St-Denis nay Stewart nay Stoffer yea Storseth yea Strahl nay Sullivan yea Sweet nay Thibeault nay Tilson yea Toet nay Toone nay Tremblay yea Trost nay Trottier nay Trudeau nay Truppe nay Turmel yea Tweed nay Uppal nay Valcourt nay Valeriote yea Van Kesteren yea Van Loan yea Vellacott nay Wallace yea Warawa yea Warkentin yea Watson yea Weston (Saint John) yea Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country) nay Wilks yea Williamson yea Wong yea Woodworth nay Yelich yea Young (Oakville) nay Young (Vancouver South) yea Zimmer
Related on HuffPost:
Which Cabinet Ministers Oppose Abortion?
The <a href="http://www.campaignlifecoalition.com/index.php?p=Find_Your_MP" target="_hplink">Campaign Life Coalition provides a listing of MPs who support and oppose abortion rights</a>. The list is based on voting records, previous comments and questionnaire responses. Here is a list of Conservative cabinet ministers who, according to the Coalition, oppose abortion. (CP)
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. (CP)
Minister of Public Safety. (CP)
Peter Van Loan
Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. (CP)
Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. (CP)
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board. (Handout)
Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway. (CP)
Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. (Handout)
Minister of State for Science and Technology and for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. (Handout)
Birth Control Causes Prostate Cancer
Earlier this year, a New Hampshire lawmaker came up with a new reason the government should not require health insurance companies to provide contraception. "As a man, would it interest you to know that Dr. Brownstein just published an article that links the pill to prostate cancer?" state Rep. Jeanine Notter (R) asked a male representative at the hearing, the <a href="http://merrimack.patch.com/articles/merrimack-rep-claims-the-pill-has-been-linked-to-prostate-cancer" target="_hplink">Merrimack Patch reports</a>. "In the children that are born from these women?" he asked. Notter could not clearly explain the study or how the pill results in prostate cancer. The study described in <a href="http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/dr_brownstein/Prostate_Cancer_The_Pill/2012/02/06/432113.html" target="_hplink">the newsletter of Dr. David Brownstein, a physician and holistic practitioner in Michigan,</a> suggests men may ingest estrogen through environmental contamination, not in utero from mothers taking birth control. An author of the study <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2011/11/15/study-link-between-birth-control-pills-and-prostate-cancer/" target="_hplink">told ABC News</a>, "This is just a hypothesis-generating idea. Women should not be throwing away the pill because of this."
Abortion Causes Breast Cancer
The New Hampshire House in 2012 <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/14/abortion-breast-cancer-new-hampshire-_n_1345771.html" target="_hplink">passed a bill </a>that would require doctors to tell women seeking abortions that the procedure can cause breast cancer. Here is an excerpt from the bill, sponsored by Notter: <blockquote>Materials that inform the pregnant woman that there is a direct link between abortion and breast cancer. It is scientifically undisputed that full-term pregnancy reduces a woman's lifetime risk of breast cancer. It is also undisputed that the earlier a woman has a first full-term pregnancy, the lower her risk of breast cancer becomes, because following a full-term pregnancy the breast tissue exposed to estrogen through the menstrual cycle is more mature and cancer resistant. In fact, for each year that a woman's first full-term pregnancy is delayed, her risk of breast cancer rises 3.5 percent. The theory that there is a direct link between abortion and breast cancer builds upon this undisputed foundation. During the first and second trimesters of pregnancy the breasts develop merely by duplicating immature tissues. Once a woman passes the thirty-second week of pregnancy (third trimester), the immature cells develop into mature cancer resistant cells. When an abortion ends a normal pregnancy, the woman is left with more immature breast tissue than she had before she was pregnant. </blockquote> There is <a href="http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancer/MoreInformation/is-abortion-linked-to-breast-cancer" target="_hplink">no link between abortions and breast cancer</a>, according to the World Health Organization, the American Cancer Society and other major health organizations. Similar provisions requiring doctors to make the abortion-breast cancer connection remain on the books in other state laws. Alaska, Kansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas all inaccurately assert a risk in written counseling materials, according to the <a href="http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_MWPA.pdf" target="_hplink">Guttmacher Institute</a>, a New York-based reproductive health research organization.
Birth Control Is A Sex Pill
Rush Limbaugh showed he has no understanding of how birth control pills work when he attacked Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student barred from testifying as a Democratic witness at a congressional hearing about the Obama administration's contraception policy. Limbaugh <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/29/rush-limbaugh-sandra-fluke-slut_n_1311640.html" target="_hplink">called Fluke a "slut"</a> for needing lots of birth control to manage her sex life. "She wants to be paid to have sex," Limbaugh said. "She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex." Rick Santorum has also said that contraception encourages a bad kind of sex. Last year, in an interview with the Evangelical blog Caffeinated Thoughts, <a href="http://swampland.time.com/2012/02/14/rick-santorum-wants-to-fight-the-dangers-of-contraception/" target="_hplink">Santorum warned of the "dangers of contraception:"</a> <blockquote>"It's not OK because it's a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They're supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal, but also [inaudible], but also procreative. That's the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act."</blockquote> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-b-keegan/gop-obama-birth-control_b_1281808.html" target="_hplink">Most women who have had sex have used contraception</a>. Birth control pills -- which are taken daily, regardless of how frequently a woman has sex -- may also be taken to manage endometriosis, ovarian cysts, acne or other health problems. A <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/14/arizona-birth-control-bill-contraception-medical-reasons_n_1344557.html" target="_hplink">bill in Arizona proposed penalizing women who use the pill for non-medical reasons</a>.
Abortion Industry Is 'Selling Abortions'
A Republican state legislator in Arizona <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/20/abortion-bill-arizona-terri-proud-witness-email_n_1368386.html" target="_hplink">wrote in an email to a constituent</a> earlier this year that she wanted to force women seeking abortions to watch the procedure first. "Personally I'd like to make a law that mandates a woman watch an abortion being performed prior to having a 'surgical procedure,'" state Rep. Terri Proud (R) wrote. The constituent responded by email that she was "speechless" and after <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/23/abortion-bill-abortion-constituent-email-watching-abortion_n_1376389.html?ref=politics" target="_hplink">a baffling exchange with Proud</a>, released the emails to the media. Facing national outrage, Proud<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/21/terri-proud-arizona-legislator-abortion_n_1371213.html" target="_hplink"> issued a statement</a>: <blockquote>For too long, Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry have placed selling abortions above the health and safety of women. My message to a constituent last week emphasized my concerns with how abortion providers have not been honest with women about the realities of abortion, and the short and long-term risks of this dangerous surgical procedure.</blockquote> The notion that Planned Parenthood <a href="http://www.whyprolife.com/the-abortion-industry-they-believe-in-getting-children-young/" target="_hplink">baits women into unwanted pregnancies by providing ineffective contraception</a> then profits off the abortions is nothing new, but it's as outrageous as it sounds. Abortions constitute <a href="http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/who-we-are/planned-parenthood-glance-5552.htm" target="_hplink">3 percent</a> of Planned Parenthood's services, and the organization estimates it <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/what-planned-parenthood-actually-does/2011/04/06/AFhBPa2C_blog.html" target="_hplink">prevents more than 220,000 abortions each year</a> by providing contraception. Because Planned Parenthood is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/08/title-x-headline_n_846852.html" target="_hplink">not allowed to use federal funds for abortions</a>, defunding the program may limit contraception services and result in more abortions.
Women Can't Get Pregnant From Rape
Just before Idaho's Senate withdrew a mandatory ultrasound bill in March, a Republican bill sponsor <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/20/chuck-winder-rape-abortions_n_1366994.html" target="_hplink">made some startling comments about abortion and rape</a>. "Rape and incest was used as a reason to oppose this," said state Sen. Chuck Winder (R). "I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that's part of the counseling that goes on." It wasn't the first time a lawmaker has suggested that women seeking abortions may lie about rape. Some anti-abortion activists actually believe that rape cannot result in pregnancy. <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/annanorth/the-6-craziest-things-people-have-said-about-pregn" target="_hplink">Buzzfeed dug up a series of bizarre statements </a>Republicans have made about pregnancy, rape, juices not flowing and more. Here's one: <blockquote>The odds that a woman who is raped will get pregnant are "one in millions and millions and millions," said state Rep. Stephen Freind, R-Delaware County, the Legislature's leading abortion foe.<br> The reason, Freind said, is that the traumatic experience of rape causes a woman to "secrete a certain secretion" that tends to kill sperm.<br> Two Philadelphia doctors specializing in human reproduction characterized Freind's contention as scientifically baseless.</blockquote> <a href="http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/ask-dr-cullins/cullins-preg-5291.htm" target="_hplink">According to Planned Parenthood</a>, about 5 percent of rapes result in pregnancy, and providing all rape victims with emergency contraception could prevent more than 22,000 unwanted pregnancies a year. <em><strong>Correction:</strong> A previous version of this text misstated the status of Idaho's mandatory ultrasound bill legislation. Lawmakers ultimately decided to table the measure.</em>
Prenatal Testing Leads To Abortion
Former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum made prenatal testing a campaign issue in February when <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/22/rick-santorum-prenatal-testing_n_1293153.html#s584044&title=On_Contraception" target="_hplink">he declared</a> the tests are designed to "cull the ranks of the disabled in our society" by encouraging abortions. "Amniocentesis does, in fact, result more often than not in this country in abortions," <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/election-2012/post/rick-santorum-prenatal-testing-encourages-abortions/2012/02/19/gIQAvmZeNR_blog.html" target="_hplink">Santorum, who has a severely disabled daughter, said on "Face the Nation."</a> "That is a fact." In fact, more than 90 percent of amniocenteses tests result in normal diagnoses, and half of fetuses diagnosed with severe abnormalities -- about 5 percent of those tested -- are aborted, <a href="http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/feb/27/rick-santorum/rick-santorum-says-amniocentesis-does-fact-result-/" target="_hplink">according to PolitiFact</a>. A campaign spokeswoman for Obama <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/22/rick-santorum-prenatal-testing_n_1293153.html#s584044&title=On_Contraception" target="_hplink">condemned Santorum's comments</a> as "misinformed and dangerous" and pointed out that the tests help women have safer deliveries and healthier babies.
HPV Vaccine Causes Retardation
Back when Rick Perry was campaigning for president, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/13/rick-perry-hpv-vaccine_n_961159.html" target="_hplink">his rivals attacked him</a> for signing an executive order mandating the human papillomavirus vaccine for young girls, and misinformation quickly spread. Michele Bachmann <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/19/michele-bachmann-retardation-claim_n_970919.html" target="_hplink">insinuated that the vaccine causes mental retardation</a>, while Santorum spoke out against "having little girls inoculated at the force and compulsion of the government." The vaccine is safe and effective in preventing cervical cancer caused by certain strains of HPV, and Perry's 2007 executive order, which was overturned by the state legislature, would have allowed parents to opt out of having their daughters vaccinated. Dr. Renata Arrington-Sanders, a professor at Johns Hopkins University medical school, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/13/rick-perry-hpv-vaccine_n_961159.html" target="_hplink">told HuffPost's Laura Bassett</a>: <blockquote>"The HPV vaccine has been shown to be safe and well-tolerated based on multiple medical reports that have been submitted through government databases. It's unfortunate that this particular vaccine is surrounded by a lot of controversy just because it's been labeled as an STD-prevention vaccine. We have similar vaccines, such as one for hepatitis B, that are also used in a mandated approach and have shown very successful rates with prevention."</blockquote>
Plan B Causes Abortions
The debate over the Obama administration's contraception policy has yielded some puzzling claims about birth control and Plan B. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) <a href="http://www.lifenews.com/2012/02/08/boehner-pledges-congress-will-overturn-new-obama-mandate/" target="_hplink">addressed the House</a> in February, urging his colleagues to reverse Obama's mandate for health insurance coverage of "abortion-inducing drugs:" <blockquote>In recent days, Americans of every faith and political persuasion have mobilized in objection to a rule put forward by the Obama administration that constitutes an unambiguous attack on religious freedom in our country. This rule would require faith-based employers -- including Catholic charities, schools, universities, and hospitals -- to provide services they believe are immoral. Those services include sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs and devices, and contraception.</blockquote> Michele Bachmann called Plan B an abortion pill when she incorrectly criticized Obama for making the drug available over-the-counter -- an FDA recommendation the administration and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/08/obama-sebelius-morning-after-pill_n_1137014.html" target="_hplink">rejected last year</a>. "The president can put abortion pills for girls 8 years of age, 11 years of age, on the bubblegum aisle," <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/28/gop-candidates-personhood_n_1172082.html" target="_hplink">Bachmann said</a> at a "pro-life" town hall in December. Contraceptives, emergency or not, prevent pregnancy. They don't cause abortions. Plan B works in the same way and with the same ingredients as birth control pills, just at a higher dosage, and<a href="http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/august/31.44.html?start=2" target="_hplink"> does nothing to stop the development of a fetus</a>.
Your Fetus Is Just Fine
The Arizona Senate<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/09/wrongful-birth-bill-arizona-senate-abortion-bill_n_1335117.html" target="_hplink"> passed a bill</a> in March to protect doctors from "wrongful birth" lawsuits -- effectively allowing them to withhold information that may lead a patient to get an abortion. HuffPost's John Celock <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/06/kansas-anti-abortion-bill_n_1258185.html" target="_hplink">reports</a>: <blockquote>Sen. Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix) told the Claims Journal that she sponsored the law because she did not want claimants to blame a doctor for a baby born with disabilities. Under the provisions of her bill, a doctor could not be sued for medical malpractice if the doctor withholds information from a mother about a child's potential health issues that could influence her decision to have an abortion. In addition, a lawsuit could not be filed on the child's behalf regarding a disability.</blockquote> Kansas lawmakers <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/06/kansas-anti-abortion-bill_n_1258185.html" target="_hplink">have considered similar legislation</a>.