Effort to ban sex-selective abortion finds support at events in British Columbia

MPs Cathay Wagantall and Tamara Jensen at an outdoor display against sex-selection abortions. Wagantall has introduced a bill that would make the practice – which disproportionately targets unborn baby girls – illegal. (Facebook photos - The B.C. Catholic / CCN)

By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

[Vancouver – Canadian Catholic News] – Three politicians, dozens of volunteers, and thousands of small pink flags recently made a public stand in British Columbia against sex-selective abortion.

Cathay Wagantall, MP for Yorkton-Melville in Saskatchewan, introduced a private members’ bill in February that would prohibit abortions being performed on the basis of the sex of the unborn child, saying they disproportionately target females and perpetuate discrimination based on sex.

Wagantall visited Langley and Chilliwack Sept. 12 to join locals passionate about the issue at three outdoor displays.

“The pink flags are a visual and stark reminder that our country has a long way to go in defending the rights of women and girls, as well as equality between the sexes,” she said.

Joining Wagantall were MPs Tamara Jensen of Cloverdale-Langley City and Tako Van Popta of Langley-Aldergrove.

“It was a privilege to join her in shining a light on this misogynistic practice,” said Jensen in a post on social media. “I believe politicians of all political stripes should be willing to stand up for women and girls and oppose this practice!”

(Photo courtesy of “We Need A Law” – The B.C. Catholic / CCN)

The three events were hosted outside three Reformed churches and were organized by We Need a Law, an organization that supports legislation to restrict abortion.

We Need a Law notes that sex-selection is already illegal in the process of in-vitro fertilization, and hopes abortion laws in this country can come in line with existing reproduction laws.

The organization also advocates for legislation that would bring Canada’s abortion restrictions in line with other democratic countries.

This isn’t the first time legislation to ban abortion on the basis of sex has entered the political arena.

In 2012, former Langley MP Mark Warawa put forward a motion against “sex-selective pregnancy termination.”

In 2016, Wagantall introduced a private member’s bill called the “Protection of Pregnant Women and Their Preborn Children Act” that was defeated in the House of Commons.

Now Wagantall’s second attempt at protecting unborn children from discrimination on the basis of sex is on the table — or it would be if Parliament was in session.

Wagantall said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to suspend parliamentary duties typically means government bills die before they are passed, but private members’ bills do not suffer the same fate. In a press release, her office said the delay “merely extends a five-month hiatus on private members’ business.” Only in the event of an election would all bills, including Wagantall’s, be lost.

“Canadians of nearly all beliefs are united on this issue, with 84 per cent stating that sex-selective abortion should be illegal,” Wagantall said.

“This is reasonable common ground that every Member of Parliament must thoughtfully consider.”


Canadians want a real debate about abortion but extremists and political parties are standing in the way, says MP

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa – CCN]  – A Member of Parliament who wants a law to make it illegal to abort an unborn child based solely on a baby’s sex thinks her biggest challenge is not to convince Canadians of this, but instead is to convince those in the halls of power.

Cathay Wagantall said members of Parliament have a long history of staying clear of any meaningful debate in the House of Commons about abortion.

“My biggest challenge is breaking through the politics. I think most Canadians support reasonable laws that would not ban abortion outright but instead put some rules in place,” said Conservative MP Cathay Wagantall. “It’s the political parties that don’t want to have this discussion and debate.”

While the federal Liberals, NDP and Green parties all have actively discouraged and blocked pro-life candidates from gaining any traction in those parties, Wagantall concedes that her own Conservative Party has not been keen to re-open the abortion debate in Canada either – although pro-life MPs in the party can at least debate the issue internally.

Back in February, before the COVID-19 pandemic severely curtailed the operations of Canada’s Parliament, Wagantall introduced a private member’s bill in the House of Commons called the Sex Selective Abortion Act Bill C-233 that would make abortions done of the basis of a baby’s sex illegal.

“If just one girl is aborted simply because of her sex, parliamentarians must act,” Wagantall said.

“Thankfully, Canadians of nearly all beliefs are united on this issue, with eighty-four per cent stating that sex-selective abortion should be illegal. This is reasonable common ground that every member of parliament must thoughtfully consider,” she said, citing a poll that ran in the National Post newspaper as indicative of Canadians being in favour of some form of legal regulations surrounding abortion in the country as opposed to the situation as it is now in which Canada has, in essence, no law when it comes to abortion.

Although the federal Liberal minority government prorogued Parliament until Sept. 23 and there will be a new Speech from the Throne – a move which effectively killed any government bills before the House of Commons – private members’ bills are in a different category.

As long as the Liberal minority government survives a confidence vote after the throne speech, Wagantall’s bill will continue to proceed without having to be reintroduced.

Wagantall, who represents the Saskatchewan riding of Yorkton-Melville, is continuing to speak out in favour of her proposed bill in the hope Canadians will push their MPs to support it.

“This is something that Canadians are open to and want,” she said in a phone interview Sept. 12 from B.C. where she participated in “Pink Flag Display” organized by the pro-life group We Need A Law.

“I think Canadians have shown that they want some laws surrounding abortion in this country and it is the political parties and the extremists on both sides, pro-abortion and pro-life, that are not willing to compromise and come to a consensus that can be supported,” Wagantall said.

The Conservative Party’s new federal leader, Erin O’Toole, has said publicly he has no intention of reopening the abortion debate in the House of Commons if he ever forms a government. Nevertheless, Wagantall notes that the recently-concludedConservative leadership race showed how important social conservative party members were in supporting a candidate such as Leslyn Lewis.

“There is a growing movement of social conservatives getting involved,” Wagantall said.