By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Oct. 13, 2012
MP John Weston’s recent ‘yes’ vote on a controversial motion to open discussion on human life was guided by a desire to review an aging legal definition, he said.
Weston would support reviewing any 400-year old definitions in the law that may be ‘out of step’ with medicine, science, or common sense.
Weston was one of the 90 MPs, including several cabinet ministers, who voted yes for a motion brought forward by stephen woodworth, the kitchener centre member of parliament.
The motion proposed the set-up of a new, 12-member house committee to review a law that seeks to define when someone becomes “human” for legal purposes in canada.
The unmistakable intent by Woodworth was to re-open the debate on abortion, a highly sensitive and divisive issue that pits pro-life believers against those who believe in women’s right to abort.
In an email interview with the Reporter, Weston seemed to place himself somewhere in the middle, as a rational man who carefully considered both sides of the argument.
Weston said supporters of the motion would exhort MPs to prohibit all forms of abortion.
As a staunch proponent of human rights, including women’s rights, he said he wouldn’t accept that position, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t willing to discuss when “human” life begins and ends.
Weston also voted in 2010 in favour of Bill-510, a bill that would have made coerced abortion a criminal offence.
Bill C-510, also known as Roxanne’s law, was introduced by conservative MP Rod Bruinooge, but failed to become a law.
Since 1987, there have been 34 attempts to draft a bill dealing with abortion. The latest motion to reopen the debate has met with predictable support and opposition from warring camps.
Campaign Life Coalition has praised the MPs who voted in favour of the recent motion, calling the yes vote courageous.
Canada’s national pro-choice group, meanwhile, came down heavily on those who supported the motion, particularly Rona Ambrose, the Minister for Status of Women.
“Her yes vote on the motion was a shocking failure and a slap in the face to the women of Canada,” Joyce Arthur, executive director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC), was quoted as saying in the National Post newspaper.
Weston’s yes vote was also criticised by Kelsey Rose, a women’s resource worker with the Howe Sound Women’s Centre.
Rose said the vote marked a troubling erosion of women’s rights happening quietly in Canada
“The fact that 10 ministers and one-third of parliament, including Rona Ambrose voted for such a motion is deeply troubling.”