Issue 33, Volume 85
March 6, 2013
Jeff Watson hopes polling on his website will help open the abortion debate in Parliament
Essex MP Jeff Watson is attempting to engage in a digital dialogue with his constituents over an abortion debate that the federal government has already put to bed.
When Stephen Harper emphatically announced in the House of Commons last spring that government would not re-open the abortion debate, many Canadians thought that Tory MPs would cease.
On his website, Watson asked his constituents if they agreed with following: “Recently, as Parliament debated M-312 to establish a committee to re-examine Canada’s 400-year old law defining a human being, the founder and executive director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada called fully taxpayer-funded
abortion, at any time, for any reason—— including for sex-selection or as birth control-— a basic woman’s right.”
The results at time of publication, signified that 37 per cent support fully taxpayer-funded abortion, at any time in the pregnancy, for any reason at all; 50 per cent support a complete ban on abortion; six per cent support creative policy options and supports that help women with unexpected pregnancies keep the baby; five
per cent support some legal restrictions on access to abortion, for example restricting full access to abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy. No one supported abortion for any reason that wasn’t taxpayer-funded.
For the first four months of the poll, the number of respondents stagnated at around 300, but over the past week it has rapidly risen to over 9,000.
According to Watson, the flood of responses is because of an “organized campaign” by both constituent groups.
“When I put the poll up, I was hoping there would be a sincere effort to maybe gauge a more wider range of possible responses in reaction to what I think is the very extreme position held by the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada,” said Watson, who didn’t expect to get the two main interest groups “sparring to drive numbers.”
Watson believes the abortion debate to be ongoing and in need of a serious conversation on a national level.
“I think it’s high time for a good dialogue on the topic,” said Constance Thompson, who is against any abortions. The co-founder of Soul Presence, a local pro-life organization and support group, added, “The problem with abortion is that those who are for life haven’t been able to voice their opinions, especially in the media.”
Thomson applauded Watson’s poll and hopes to have “an honest dialogue about the facts so that we can be a healthy community.”
“Those that self-identify as pro-choice, they have a much narrower [acceptance for
abortion and] they are pro-restriction or pro-limitation in one fashion or another, either in who should fund it and when, by reason to have an abortion, or by some point in the pregnancy then they can access it,” said Watson.
When asked whether or not there was a difference between being pro-choice and
pro-abortion, Watson firmly answereded “No. It’s a distinction without a difference for those that hold the most liberal view of abortion … they are very pro-abortion for any reason, fully taxpayer-funded, at any point in the pregnancy and that’s how they would define the right to choose.”
Watson added, “those who are unabashedly the most liberal and pro-abortion like to hide behind the moniker of pro-choice because it sounds less insensitive
to mainstream Canadians, you can quote me on that.”
Sarah Morris, a self-described feminist, activist and co-founder of Riot Girrrl Tuesday events, said, “unless you are in someone’s shoes, actually knowing why someone is getting an abortion is totally a personal issue [and] if you make abortion unavailable, [it] doesn’t mean that it won’t happen …women will get unsafe abortions.”
“[Abortion] is a difficult decision and it’s not something that many people take lightly I think laying out options, for women, is really important. Letting them know that abortion is an option or having the baby or giving the baby up for adoption,” said Morris, also believes that proper sex education and birth control is a way to reduce the number of abortions from occurring.
“If we’re educating women and giving them the reproductive healthcare that they need, then abortion [rates will go down],”she said.
Jon Liedtke was the Features and Opinions Editor, Associate News Editor, Advertising Manager and Deficit Consultant at the UWindsor Lance.