On Wednesday Canada's Parliament voted down a motion put forward by Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth that called for the creation of a committee to study at what point human life begins. Had the motion passed it opened up the possibility that a fetus could be given legal recognition. In turn that could have led to restrictions being placed on when an abortion can take place.
For those who believe in a woman's right to access abortion services under any circumstances, for any reason and at any point during pregnancy, they can relax. But not for too long.
A new motion was put forward by Conservative MP Mark Warawa which asks Parliament to condemn the practice of abortion being used for sex selection. If this new motion does comes to a vote, it won't be for another year or more.
The obvious question is whether abortions take place in Canada for reasons of gender. The Canadian Medical Association thinks so, having recently suggested postponing the disclosure of a baby's sex until after 30 weeks based on statistics that suggest some ethnic groups are terminating pregnancies only when the fetus is female.
Pro Choice militants will undoubtedly be all over this. Condemning a woman's right to abort a female fetus runs counter to the preferred status quo where there are no legal restrictions on abortion whatsoever. Delaying the disclosure of the sex of a fetus takes away choice. And it could mean a dangerous delay for those wishing to abort a fetus based on gender. Its common knowledge that if an abortion is chosen, it is best performed early in pregnancy and not later.
The issue of abortion is a divisive one certainly, even for members of Harper's Conservatives. Of the 91 votes supporting Mr. Woodworth's motion, 87 came from the Tories, with 10 cabinet ministers breaking ranks with the Prime Minister and voting in favour.
Pro abortion status quo advocates have reason to be concerned in my opinion. The potential for Mr. Warawa's motion to garner even greater support is very real. There are people who are generally supportive of the Pro-Choice argument, but still have issues with abortion being used for reasons like sex selection.
The Pro-Life anti abortion lobby obviously does not have an ally in Canada's Prime Minister. If the PMO uses its power this new motion will never see the light of day and things can remain as they are now. Pro-Life Conservatives may not like it, but Pro-Choice advocates would be able to breathe easier and for a longer period of time.