MP Russ Hiebert was among Tories known to hold socially conservative views who this week voted in favour of a motion considered a first step toward a new law to restrict abortion.
However, Motion 312, sponsored by Ontario Conservative Stephen Woodworth – which called for an all-party committee of MPs to discuss when human life and legal personhood begins – was expected to be defeated in the house as of Peace Arch News’ press time Wednesday.
(UPDATE: Motion 312 was defeated Wednesday night by a vote of 203-91. A total of 87 Tory MPs, out of 163, supported the motion.)
Pundits had predicted that previously-stated opposition to bringing in abortion restrictions from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and most of his cabinet – as well as NDP and Liberal MPs and Green Party leader Elizabeth May – would weigh against the motion.
Before the vote on Wednesday, Hiebert – while he declined to comment on what ways his decision reflected his own opinions on abortion – said he was supporting the motion primarily because he views discussion of the issue in Parliament, by elected representatives, as an “appropriate” forum.
“It doesn’t bring forward legislation, it proposes we study the issue,” the South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale MP said.
“It suggests we discuss when life begins, and I think Parliament is an appropriate place to have that discussion.”
Hiebert acknowledged he has heard “a lot of feedback on both sides of the issue from constituents” since Woodworth put forward the motion.
“It’s a challenging topic, and I think the best place to discuss it is in a peaceful place like Parliament,” he said.
“This is what we’re elected to do, to discuss issues of concern to the public.”
Since 1988, there have been no laws in Canada restricting abortion.