MP Mark Warawa's Motion-408 condemning sex-selection pregnancy termination was deemed non-votable by a parliamentary sub-committee on March 21, 2013. Register file photo

MP Warawa's gendercide motion deemed non-votable

  • March 22, 2013

OTTAWA - Pro-life and pro-family groups decried the March 21 decision by a parliamentary sub-committee to make Motion-408 condemning sex-selection pregnancy termination non-votable.

A number of them were quick to condemn the decision of the Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business.

“We commend MP Mark Warawa for bringing forward this courageous motion that highlights the problem of sex-selection abortion that is taking place in Canada,” said Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) director Michele Boulva. “It is regrettable this motion to condemn a practice the vast majority of Canadians oppose could not even be debated in Parliament.

“Gendercide abortion has caused serious population imbalances in countries like China and India where female fetuses are aborted in favour of male fetuses. This motion would have shed some light on the negative effects which Canada's lack of any law limiting abortion has on the common good. Hopefully, Canadians will back Mr. Warawa as he appeals this decision — another courageous move.”

A CBC documentary in June 2012 revealed that the practice was common in Canada, particularly among South Asian communities. With hidden cameras, the CBC visited a number of private ultrasound clinics and found most allowed ultrasounds to tell the sex of the baby so that the parents could choose to terminate the pregnancy if the unborn child was female. 

Warawa turned to Twitter with his reaction to the surprise decision.

“Members of PMB Sub-Committee broke rules today deeming #M408 unvoteable. Were they forced and by who? An appeal process has begun.”

"Canada prides itself on freedom of speech and elects men and women to Parliament who have the courage to bring forward issues of concern to the Canadian people," said Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes. "This is anti-democratic and a violation of MPs rights to be heard in Parliament."

"Motion-408 calls for protection for women and girls. Who can be opposed to such a motion?" asked Campaign Life national organizer Mary Ellen Douglas. "Canada presents itself as being a defender of human rights here and around the world and yet our own MPs are not free to bring forward private member's motions without being censured by their own Parliament."

“This was a non-binding motion, which simply asked that the House condemn a deplorable practice — that of sex-selection abortion,” said Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) legal counsel Faye Sonier.

“Representatives from all political parties have condemned gendercide as well as 92 per cent of Canadians, in a recent poll. And let’s be clear — this motion could not have, in any way, criminalized the act itself.”

EFC vice president and general legal counsel Don Hutchinson said the decision warrants review, “otherwise, this will be a lost opportunity to have a debate and a national discussion on a tragic practice that’s taking place in our country.”

“It’s impossible to escape the thought that Canada’s MPs are afraid of a vote on sex-selection abortion and have resorted to a parliamentary trick to avoid declaring themselves,” said LifeCanada president Lisa Smith. “MPs know that the vast, vast majority of Canadians, 92 per cent according to a 2011 Environics poll, oppose sex-selection abortions which almost always target girls. They know they should support Mark Warawa’s motion and condemn the practice.”

For some social conservatives, however, Prime Minister Stephen Harper gets the blame.

“Is the Prime Minister’s Office so dismissive of anything remotely connected to pre-born human rights that it will subvert democracy itself to avoid the discussion?” asked director Mike Schouten, citing Harper’s continued refusal to re-open the abortion debate.

Schouten noted Harper had told the House of Commons 11 months ago he found it “unfortunate” MP Stephen Woodworth’s Motion-312 to set up a parliamentary committee to study the Criminal Code’s definition of a human being was deemed votable.

“The government may feel that they have effectively quashed Motion-408, but all indications are they have only set in motion a series of battles which could ultimately be settled by an appeal to the House which make a ruling by way of secret ballot,” said Schouten.

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