Inside Politics

'Nobody's anti-life and nobody's anti-choice'

Conservative MP Laurie Hawn gave an interesting scrum today in which he explained why he's voting in favour of Stephen Woodward's Motion 312 to set up a parliamentary committee to study the Criminal Code's definition of when life begins.

Given how polarized the debate is often portrayed to be, Hawn's comments are interesting as an example of what one MP considered in making his decision. Read an edited transcript below.

(One note about his comments at the end - our parliamentary procedure expert Kady O'Malley says, were a committee to be set up, its recommendations wouldn't be binding on the government. But, as she explains here, because the motion calls on the House to do something within its powers, the motion itself is binding.)

"People try to put people in those pegs. And when they say to me are you pro-choice or pro-life, I say yes. Because nobody's anti-life and nobody's anti-choice. I'll use my daughter as an example. If she got pregnant out of wedlock -- she's married now, so it doesn't matter -- I would encourage her very strongly to have the child, give it up for adoption if necessary. I would want her to have all the counselling -- religious, family, medical, whatever. If she ultimately decided to have an abortion, I would still love her, she's still my daughter, I would want her to have the best medical care. I might personally regret her decision but it's her decision and I would respect that."

Reporter: And you wouldn't remove her choice.

"No. Absolutely not... For me, voting yes is not to do with my position on abortion because I think we're all going to be judged, you know, by somebody above my pay grade, at some point. It's strictly about, I think Canadians ought to be able to have rational, respectful discussions on difficult issues."

...

"No matter which way any of us vote there's going to be a sizeable portion of our constituents who are going to be mad at us. So you might as well be honest. I'm being as honest as I can be about why I'm voting yes. It's got nothing to do, as I said, with my position on abortion, which I think is reasonably balanced. I'm not going to take away a woman's right. I might regret their decisions but it's their decision. And they'll be judged somewhere else, not by me."

...

"You know, we've got lots of difficult issues that we're afraid to discuss in Canada and I think that's unfortunate. This is obviously a difficult issue. The simple fact is, it's probably going to get defeated. The other fact is this is a motion which is not binding on government. The third fact is the prime minister's been very clear in his opposition to this motion, so you can follow those dots."
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