An unclear number of Canadian MPs on Tuesday blocked a motion seeking to recognize “freedom of choice” for abortion in the House of Commons.
Bloc Quebecois MP Christine Normandin put forward a motion seeking unanimous consent from the House to affirm the importance of the right to choose, following a leaked initial draft majority opinion that suggested the U.S. Supreme Court will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.
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“There have been consultations among the parties and I believe you will see that there is unanimous consent for the following motion: that a women’s body belongs to her and her alone, and recognize her freedom of choice on abortion for any reason,” said Normandin, speaking in French.
Her motion was met with a number of “no’s” from MPs.
“I’ve heard a number of ‘no’s,’” said Chris D’Entremont, deputy speaker of the House of Commons in French after the motion was blocked.
Unanimous consent motions are not votes and do not take recorded notes of which MPs oppose them. In order to be adopted, a unanimous consent motion needs no rejections.
A single “no” shouted out is enough to block adoption.
The motion came amid an outcry south of the border sparked by reporting on Monday night from Politico about a U.S. Supreme Court draft ruling after a private vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Roe v. Wade was the 1973 landmark ruling in the U.S. that established the right to have an abortion through the first trimester of pregnancy as a constitutional right.
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Plaintiff Jane Roe, later identified as Norma McCorvey, was an unmarried pregnant woman who was unable to get an abortion under Texas law, where it was illegal unless to save the life of the mother.
Roe’s lawyers said she was unable to travel out of the state to obtain an abortion and argued that the law was too vague and infringed on her constitutional rights.
In Canada, the Conservative Party on Tuesday instructed its MPs to keep quiet on the leaked decision.
In a memo to Conservative MPs, interim leader Candice Bergen’s office instructed MPs that the party would not comment on the leaked court decision that has sent shockwaves through the U.S.
“Conservatives will not be commenting on draft rulings leaked from the Supreme Court of the United States. Thank you,” read the one-line memo, first reported by the Globe and Mail and confirmed by Global News.
In a statement, Bergen’s office said it would be “inappropriate” for the party to comment on matters before U.S. courts.
“When it comes to the debate in Canada, Conservatives’ position remains what it has been since the Harper government. Access to abortion was not restricted under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and the Conservative Party will not introduce legislation to reopen the debate,” Bergen’s office wrote.
“The only ones reopening this debate are the Liberals, and Justin Trudeau is once again using women’s reproductive rights to wedge and divide Canadians.”
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his party will “never back down” from “protecting and promoting women’s rights in Canada and around the world.”
“The right to choose is a woman’s right and a woman’s right alone. Every woman in Canada has a right to a safe and legal abortion,” Trudeau said in a statement online.
— with files from Global News’ Alex Boutilier and Reuters
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