Last year Stephen Woodworth, a member of Canada’s Parliament, introduced a motion to create an expert panel that would reexamine how Canada’s criminal laws define the beginning of human life. The point was clear: He wanted to open a debate over abortion, currently handled as a purely medical matter in Canada, and consider whether it might be redefined as a crime.
Woodworth is a member of the Conservative Party, and his motion drew a strong response. The four liberal opposition parties, not surprisingly, immediately condemned it. But so did many of his fellow Conservatives. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, an evangelical Christian and arguably the most right-wing Canadian leader in history, declared the motion “unfortunate” and made clear he would be voting against it. The Conservative responsible for maintaining government discipline in the House, Gordon O’Connor, went further, declaring, “This should never happen in a civilized society....I cannot understand why those who are adamantly opposed to abortion want to impose their beliefs on others by way of the Criminal Code.”