A bill seeking to ban sex-selective abortions in Canada was defeated on Wednesday, though public opinion showed Canadians overwhelmingly supported the ban. In Canada, sex-selective abortion is legal and typically targets preborn girls.
The bill, known as the Sex Selective Abortion Act, was advanced by MP Cathay Wagantall. It would have made it a crime for a medical practitioner to commit an abortion sought solely on the grounds of the child’s sex. About two-thirds of the Conservative caucus voted in favor of the bill, but ultimately it failed by a shocking margin of 248 to 82.
“The debate is over. Women and women alone are in control of their bodies and their health care choices. This is not a place for politicians to weigh in,” Monsef stated. Although Monsef claims to champion women’s rights and value equality, being a preborn baby girl in Canada can be a death sentence. According to DefendGirls, a campaign to raise awareness about sex-selective abortions, girls are aborted at a higher rate in Canada than boys. Bill C-233 would have protected girls from being aborted simply for being girls.
In a tweet, Wagantall called out Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef for her opposition to the bill, telling her, “You don’t stand up for baby girls in the womb, equality, or human rights. You don’t represent the majority of Canadian women. You represent 16% of Canadians who are pro-abortion any time 4 any reason.” Prior to the vote, Monsef penned a letter to Conservative leader Erin O’Toole decrying the bill for being “dangerous” and saying women need “fewer barriers and more choices.”
In the weeks leading up to the vote, pro-life Canadians flooded MP’s offices with pink envelopes representing girls lost to abortion. “Canadians are standing up and speaking out to protect baby girls from sex-selective abortion,” said MP Rachael Harder who supported the bill. “I’ve received hundreds of letters and emails from people showing their support for my colleague Cathay Wagantall’s bill.”
A tweet from MP Arnold Viersen stated, “Lately, I have received many pink envelopes from people across Canada wanting to raise awareness about sex selective abortion in Canada and in support of Bill C-233. 84% of Canadians are against this practice. Cathay Wagantall, M.P. has introduced this bill to protect girls and end discrimination.”
Although the proposed legislation was defeated, the pro-life group We Need a Law remains hopeful, noting that the bill has reignited the debate over sex-selective abortion. “The debate around sex selective abortion is necessary and will continue,” the group said in a statement. “Women’s rights cannot include targeting women before they are born. Sex selective abortion is antithetical to Canada’s commitment to equality and needs to be prohibited as an unacceptable practice. Until MPs have the courage to prohibit this practice, it remains legal and will continue to happen in Canada.”
On the heels of the vote, Wagantall expressed her gratitude for the debate and optimism for the future. She also emphasized that the majority of Canadians oppose sex-selective abortion. “Canada is the only democratic country in the world with no laws around abortion and, for that, we should be ashamed,” she said. “This was a bill that reflected the hearts and the minds of eighty-four percent of Canadians. The conversation and understanding amongst Canadians is growing. As I’ve said from the outset—if just one pre-born girl’s life is ended solely because of her sex, we need to act.”
Tragically, sex-selective abortion is a global issue. Live Action News previously reported that research conducted by the Population Research Institute (PRI) estimated that approximately 24 million abortions for reasons of sex-selection occurred globally between 2000 and 2014.
“According to UN statistics, there are 117 million girls missing around the world. Where have they gone? Many of them are left on the sides of roads, drowned, maimed and thrown in trash bins. But even more of them have been aborted,” PRI stated.
These statistics show that if we want to end discrimination against women worldwide, we need to start by refusing to tolerate sex-selective abortion.
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