O'Toole will vote against MP's private member's bill on sex-selective abortion

·3 min read
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole says he will vote against a bill introduced by a member of his party that would make performing a sex-selective abortion a criminal offence. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole says he will vote against a bill introduced by a member of his party that would make performing a sex-selective abortion a criminal offence. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole says he will vote against a private member's bill introduced by a Conservative MP which would make performing a sex-selective abortion a criminal offence.

"As you know I'm pro-choice, and I will be voting against this private member's bill," he told a news conference in Ottawa Monday morning. "I will always as prime minister defend the rights — the human rights — of all Canadians to make this decision for themselves. I've been crystal clear on that and will be as prime minister."

O'Toole did not say whether he would direct his critics to vote against Bill C-233, also known as the "Sex-selective Abortion Act," which would make it a criminal offence for a medical practitioner to perform an abortion solely on the grounds of the sex of the fetus.

WATCH | O'Toole will vote against Conservative MP's private member's bill on abortion

Cathay Wagantall, Conservative MP for the Yorkton-Melville riding in Saskatchewan, introduced the bill. It went through first reading in the House of Commons in February 2020 and members are set to debate the bill Wednesday.

At a separate news conference this morning, Wagantall said she introduced the bill because of a lack of legislation on sex-selective abortion.

"Above all, I'm bringing this bill forward in defence of pre-born Canadian girls and boys who are aborted simply due to their sex," she said. "My bill addresses inequality between the sexes at the earliest stages of life."

WATCH | Saskatchewan Conservative MP reacts to O'Toole opposing her push to ban sex-selective abortion

Asked about O'Toole's comments, Wagantall said she respected his intention to vote against the bill.

"I respect my leader's opportunity to make his choice as much as I do mine," she said.

While Wagantall acknowledged that a majority of Canadians are in favour of maintaining access to abortion, she said that consensus does not extend to sex-selective abortion.

She cited a 2019 Dart & Maru/Blue poll, which reported that 84 per cent of Canadians oppose abortions conducted on the basis of an unborn child's sex.

An Angus-Reid poll from 2012 reported that 60 per cent of Canadians would like to see legislation on sex-selective abortion.

Melanie Joly, Liberal minister of economic development and official languages, attacked the bill and O'Toole on Twitter Monday morning.

"Women control their own bodies — full stop," the tweet reads. "When O'Toole was trying to get the votes of anti-abortion activists during his leadership run, he promised them he would let his MPs introduce anti-abortion laws, and now this is exactly what has happened."

A 2012 report from the Canadian Medical Association Journal called Canada a "haven" for sex-selective abortion.

"Easy access to abortion and advances in prenatal sex determination have combined to make Canada a haven for parents who would terminate female fetuses in favour of having sons, despite overwhelming censure of the practice, economists and bioethics experts say," it reads.