The bill was put forth by Saskatchewan MP Cathay Wagantall. Bill C-233 sought to ban medical practitioners who performed abortions based on the sex of a fetus.
Sex-selective abortion is practiced in numerous communities where there is a strong gender bias against women. Parents often decide to abort a fetus because the baby will be female and the family would prefer a son.
This practice is now observed within some communities in Canada. The Bill sought to curtail this emerging phenomenon, asserting that sex preference or gender bias is not a valid reason for abortion.
Liberals portrayed the issue as a debate on women’s rights, arguing that by letting a Conservative member put forward this private bill, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole acted irresponsibly.
“This is in fact the seventh time since 2007 that a Conservative Member of Parliament has worked hard to limit women’s choices”, Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef wrote in a letter.
O’Toole denied the allegations, writing in a statement: “I support a woman’s right to choose and my record speaks for itself. As prime minister, my government will secure the rights of Canadians and never erode them.”
O’Toole voted against the private member bill, going against the 81 Conservative MPs who supported the bill.
“For our rights to be safe, we need to curb all policies that attempt to control woman’s bodies”, Joly, the economic development and official languages minister said.
The liberal and opposition MPs who voted against the bill failed to address problematic sex-selective abortions or to propose another solution to curtail the gender bias against women in some communities.