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Controversial Conservative bill on violence against pregnant women defeated

OTTAWA — A controversial Conservative private member’s bill intended to make violence against pregnant women an aggravating factor during court sentencing was roundly defeated in the House of Commons, as other parties said they feared it would reopen the debate on abortion. 

The bill was supported by nearly all members of the Conservative party, including Leader Pierre Poilievre who declared himself to be “pro-choice” during his leadership campaign.

The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada had urged MPs to vote against the bill on the grounds that it promotes fetal rights, even though there is no mention of fetal rights in the text of the bill itself.

Campaign Life Coalition president Jeff Gunnarson had said he absolutely hoped the proposed bill would contribute to a legal argument for fetal rights and restrictions on abortion in the future, but he thought it unlikely.

The bill was sponsored by Conservative MP Cathay Wagantall, who opposes abortion but said recently the legislation is entirely focused on violence against women.

She received a standing ovation from her Conservative colleagues in the House of Commons before the vote. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 14, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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