Yorkton-Melville MP's bill on sex-selective abortion to be debated in House of Commons
YORKTON -- A Yorkton-area MP will debate her private member’s bill that aims to ban sex-selective abortions in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
In 2020, Yorkton-Melville MP Cathay Wagantall introduced C-233, the Sex Selective Abortion Act. If enacted, the bill would prohibit a medical practioner from knowingly performing an abortion if the reason is the sex of the unborn child.
"It's had exposure across the country and it just affirmed to me that I am reflecting the value of Canadians, reflecting a concern within our medical profession and I have an opportunity in the House of Commons to do that," said Wagantall via Zoom from Ottawa.
The Conservative MP said the bill will address discrimination from the earliest stages of life.
"The truth of the matter is, if we're really concerned about equality between men and women, and human rights – which Canada we say this is a very high priority for us – then we can't say that we value at this point but not the other," added Wagantall.
Canada currently has no abortion restrictions and patients are not required to cite a reason for an abortion.
The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada said Canadians need to look at the reasons why sex-selective abortions happen in the first place.
"The problem is sex selection, the preference for sons, that's the basic problem. What we need to be looking at is raising the status of women and girls so that people don't feel the need to have a boy baby instead of a girl baby," said Joyce Arthur, the organization’s executive director.
Arthur said while no one likes the idea of sex-selective abortion, it should not be criminalized.
“This could create some distrust and silencing in the doctor's office, which could impact the doctor-patient relationship,” explained Arthur. “It could [also] result in some doctor's racially profiling their patients.”
She added the danger of criminalizing a healthcare procedure would also reduce access and create a stigma.
"I expect to hear some negative comments in regards to the bill, but that's to be expected and that's called debate," said Wagantall of heading in to the House with her colleagues on Wednesday.
After the first hour of debate on Wednesday, the bill should return for its second hour in about two weeks.
Wagantall said her goal is to see the bill go to committee and be put in front of doctors and those impacted before returning to the House to become law.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said he will vote against the bill.
With files from The Canadian Press