British Columbia

Laurie Throness resigns from B.C. Liberal Party after comparing free contraception to eugenics

The two-time MLA for Chilliwack-Kent will now run as an independent after saying free contraception "contains a whiff of the old eugenics thing where poor people shouldn't have babies."

2-time MLA said the idea of making contraception free for women has 'whiff of eugenics'

MLA for Chilliwack-Hope Laurie Throness, in the news before for alleged homophobia, has resigned from the party in the middle of the B.C. election for his views on contraception. (John Lehmann/B.C. Liberal Caucus)

With less than 10 days to the provincial election, Chilliwack-Kent candidate Laurie Throness has stepped down from the B.C. Liberal Party after comparing free contraception to eugenics.

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson announced Throness was out during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, saying the opinions of the two-time MLA were not in keeping with party values. 

"I've accepted his resignation ... we'll move forward without him," said Wilkinson. "It's critical that we all understand that access to contraception is a critical issue in our society." 

Throness was elected in 2013 and again in 2017 but will now run as an independent, although with the Oct. 24 provincial election looming, the Liberal affiliation will still appear on the ballot beside his name.

Leader Andrew Wilkinson says the views of the former Chilliwack-Kent MLA around contraception do not align with the party, and that he accepts his resignation. 0:53

According to Elections BC, write-in or mail-in ballots that have already been submitted with votes for the B.C. Liberal party or Throness in Chilliwack-Kent will count for Throness because the deadline to withdraw a party affiliation has already passed.

Updated numbers from Elections BC show that 7,385 mail-in voting packages have been issued in the riding.

Throness made his controversial comments Wednesday evening during an all-candidates forum. Both the NDP and Greens are campaigning on the promise of making prescription contraception more accessible.

"It contains a whiff of the old eugenics thing where, you know, poor people shouldn't have babies," he said.

"And so, we can't force them to have contraception, so we'll give it to them for free. And maybe they'll have fewer babies so there will be fewer poor people in the future. And to me, that contains an odour that I don't like."

The chair of Access B.C., a group campaigning for free prescription contraception, said Throness's comments were misogynistic and show how out of touch he is. 

"I think the only way we can possibly even talk about [eugenics] is to jump in a time machine," said Teale Phelps Bondaroff.

Birth control pills, the ring, IUDs and the patch are all methods of contraception. The B.C. NDP and B.C. Green Party both say they will increase access to free prescription contraception if elected. (AccessBC)

"When you oppose actions that try and increase access to [contraception], especially in the way Mr. Throness did, you're basically saying women don't have the ability to make choices about things that happen to their body, and that's unacceptable."

Phelps Bondaroff said Access B.C. met with Throness in August of 2019 to discuss how increasing access to contraception leads to improvements in women's health and equality and saves governments money. 

Throness's comments were widely criticized on social media by members of all parties. On Twitter, B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau called what he said "reprehensible."

"The evidence is clear that improving access to contraception actually helps address inequality," she tweeted.

Eugenics is the practice of selective breeding in humans aimed at increasing so-called desirable characteristics while decreasing so-called undesirable traits.

Throness has been criticized in the past for alleged homophobia and for defending an article touting the widely discredited practice of conversion therapy.

 

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now