To many Canadians, Rona Ambrose’s recent parliamentary vote in favor of the private members bill to redefine the rights of a fetus was a shocking move. As our government representative responsible for the status of women, it is somewhat surprising that she would support a motion which essentially reduces women’s decision-making rights. However, a key argument keeps getting pushed to the back-burner.
Ms. Ambrose cited issues around gender-selective abortion as her rationale for her vote, which is a very valid argument. In fact, Ms. Ambrose made a rather brave statement in recognizing that the rights of women not only extend to a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion, but that women should have rights before they are even born, and that all people have the right to live, regardless of their gender. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms dictates that we cannot discriminate on the basis of gender, and yet gender-selective abortion is indeed a reality. While many believe that female feticide is unique to other countries, the number of abortions performed in Canada to terminate a female fetus is surprisingly high. In supporting this bill, Ms. Ambrose was simply making a statement on the unconstitutional issues that have arisen by supporting pro-choice policies.
At the end of the day, we must ask ourselves, is it ethical to restrict the rights of a group for the future benefit of the same group? By potentially restricting a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion based on the gender of her unborn child, are we protecting the right to live of women in general? And by ignoring the reality of gender-selective abortion, are we truly respecting the status of women?