TORONTO — Ontario’s Liberal government accused the Progressive Conservatives Wednesday of trying to reopen the abortion debate after three Tories sponsored a news conference at the legislature to stop public funding of the controversial procedure.
It only takes one MPP to sponsor an event in the legislature’s media studio, so having Conservative MPPs John O’Toole, Randy Hillier and Rick Nicholls all sponsor an announcement by Campaign Life was a clear attempt to reopen the abortion debate, said Laurel Broten, the minister responsible for women’s issues.
“If we look at the track record in Ottawa, where we have seen Prime Minister (Stephen) Harper distance himself from the issue but at the same time allow backbench MPs to drive an agenda forward, that we can see what perhaps the plan is here,” Broten told reporters.
“Last year, (Hudak) indicated that he did not intend to advance efforts to reopen the debate about women’s right to choose in the province, but unfortunately today there were certainly strong efforts made by three of his caucus colleagues to reopen that very debate,” she said.
Hudak was not available to comment Wednesday, but Conservative finance critic Peter Shurman insisted the debate on abortion “is closed,” and the opposition has no plans to revisit the issue if they form government after the next election.
“We have 36 people with 36 sets of opinions and long ago, at the federal level, it was established that people could hold personal opinions on a range of subjects, and one of them was abortion,” Shurman told reporters.
“It’s not something that is up for discussion, and my colleagues are acting entirely on their own.”
“We find that very sad. This is 2012, we should be beyond that discussion.”
It’s not something that is up for discussion, and my colleagues are acting entirely on their own
“They will demand that their MPPs work to defund abortion, which is an elective procedure that is done today for reasons of convenience as a back up birth control method,” said Alissa Golob, Campaign Life’s youth co-ordinator.
“It’s one thing for an individual to make a personal choice to kill a baby in the womb, but it’s quite another to expect the rest of us to co-finance that.”
Broten also said publicly-funded Catholic schools in Ontario should not be teaching students that abortion is wrong because the anti-bullying law prohibits misogyny.
“I don’t think there is a conflict between choosing Catholic education for your children and supporting a woman’s right to choose.”
Campaign Life, which uses a red-yellow-green traffic light system to show whether politicians support their efforts to delist abortions, also plans to hold a mass rally outside the legislature Oct. 30.