Note: Bill C-233 is up for debate in the House of Commons the week of April 12.
“Do you think abortion should be legal in the following cases when the family does not want the child to be a certain sex?” That was one of the questions a recent DART & Maru/Blue poll
asked Canadians. Not surprisingly, a vast majority of respondents (88%) opposed abortion when it was about the child being the wrong sex. Most Canadians agree that there should be a law against terminating the life of an unborn child on the basis of their sex alone.
Canada is unique in that it has no legal restrictions on abortion.
The previous law restricting abortion was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1988, in the Morgantaler
decision. In that decision, the majority agreed that “protection of foetal interests by Parliament is a valid governmental objective.” However, the unborn child’s legal standing is still not clearly defined in Canada.
While abortion is an issue of deep division among Canadians, a ban on sex-selective abortion should be a place of common ground. As a society, can we not find agreement in the belief that no child should be aborted because they are the wrong sex?
International agencies like UN Women and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights note that gender-based sex selection typically occurs because of a systematic preference for boys and refer to female infanticide and prenatal sex selection as harmful and unethical practices.
Sex-selective abortion of girls takes place in Canada. For example, research
published in 2016 provides strong evidence to suggest induced abortions are being used to select for infant sex. One article estimates that about 4,500 female fetuses were not born over the past 22 years.
MP Cathay Wagantall’s private member’s Bill C-233
would discourage discrimination on the basis of sex and prevent medical practitioners from performing an abortion solely because of the child’s sex.
The EFC wrote a letter of support
for Bill C-233 and has a sample letter of support on our website at www.TheEFC.ca/C-233
Bill C-233 is likely to come up for debate this month. Private members’ bills are an important way to raise awareness of an issue and to show support for a course of action. Although private members’ bills pass rarely, they serve an important function in bringing the discussion into the House of Commons and prompting MPs to think through their response.
Please take a few minutes and ask your MP to support Bill C-233 and its ban of sex-selective abortion.