Abortion Law in Canada
2010 - 2012

2010: Roxanne’s Law

MP Rod Bruinooge introduced a private member’s bill, C-510, that would have made it a criminal offence to coerce a woman into having an abortion. The legislation was defeated on December 15, 2010.

2012: Motion 312 - When does life begin?

A motion (M312) to establish a committee to re-examine Canada's legal definition of a human being was defeated September 26, 2012 in Parliament by a vote of 203 to 91. Canada’s Criminal Code states in Section 223 that a child only becomes a human being once he or she has fully proceeded from the womb. Section 223 is a 400 year-old-law inherited from British common law. MP Stephen Woodworth of Kitchener Centre introduced M312 on February 6, 2012, stating "Section 223 is, purely and simply, a law that says some human beings are not human beings." In its first hour of debate on April 26, 2012, Woodworth asked, "How many Canadians believe that birth is a moment of magical transformation that changes a child from a non-human to a human being?"

2012: Motion 408 – Sex Selection Abortion

MP Mark Warawa of Langley, B.C. introduced Motion 408 calling on the House to “condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination.” Wawara’s motion came after a report was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal which stated that measures are needed to combat the practice of sex selection abortion in Canada’s Asian immigrant population. M-408 was declared non-votable by the Sub-Committee on Private Members’ Business on March 21, 2013, shutting down any possibility of discussion on the matter. 92% of Canadians believe sex-selection abortions or female feticides should be illegal, according to a 2011 Environics poll.

MP“Gender selection has been strongly condemned by all national political parties,” he added. “As well, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada have vehemently opposed sex-selection pregnancy termination.”

The new motion is sure to build on the momentum created in recent months in the lead-up to Wednesday’s vote on Woodworth’s M-312.

The motion failed in a vote of 91 to 203, but surprised many onlookers by even attaining that many votes. Notably, the motion was backed by more than half of the Conservative caucus and ten Cabinet ministers, despite Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s strong opposition.

Warawa’s motion comes in the wake of a January report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal calling for measures to combat the deadly practice of sex selection in Canada’s Asian immigrant population.

“Some readers might be skeptical about whether female feticide is in fact taking place in Canada and the United States,” wrote then-editor Dr. Rajendra Kale. “Research in Canada has found the strongest evidence of sex selection at higher parities if previous children were girls among Asians — that is people from India, China, Korea, Vietnam and Philippines.”

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