Anti-abortion activists tell Harper 'debate is on'

Anti-abortion activists say they have a message for Prime Minister Stephen Harper as they prepare to gather on Parliament Hill today: the debate is on.

Annual anti-abortion demonstration today follows motion to study when life begins

Anti-abortion activists say they have a message for Prime Minister Stephen Harper as they prepare to gather on Parliament Hill Thursday: the debate is on. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Anti-abortion activists say they have a message for Prime Minister Stephen Harper as they gather today for an annual demonstration on Parliament Hill: the debate is on.

Alissa Golob, a spokeswoman for Campaign Life Coalition, said Harper is scared of raising the issue, despite what she says is rising support among Canadians.

"Whether you like it or not, the abortion debate is on. The issue has been raised in Parliament by a private member's motion, it's been raised with recent studies exposing the practice of sex-selection abortion in Canada, it's an issue that is constantly discussed in the media," she said.

Harper has repeatedly said his government will not reopen the debate.

Golob said the March for Life has grown significantly since it started 15 years ago, which she says is a sign of optimism for the anti-abortion movement.

This year's march comes two weeks after a private member's motion by Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth calling on a committee study on when life begins. The motion was debated for an hour last month and will be debated and voted on sometime in June or once the House returns in September from its summer break.

A private member's motion means it is backed by a single MP rather than by the government.

NDP MP Niki Ashton says that Golob's statements contradict what the government is saying.

"They obviously see the Conservative Party as an ally on the issue," Ashton said.

"A woman's right to choose is her own and not up to the state. That's a position that most Canadians have dealt with and we're ready to move on to other things."

'Lucky to be alive'

Golob calls those born after the Supreme Court struck down Canada's abortion law "survivors."

"Anyone born after 1988 is lucky to be alive," she said.

The coalition is focusing in particular on sex-selective abortion following a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that found a difference in the rates of boys and girls born to Indian-born women in Canada.

The study found that the third-child births among Indian-born women were at a ratio of 136 boys to 100 girls, much different from the third-child rates among Canadian-born mothers of 105 boys to 100 girls, which is considered about normal for the worldwide average.

Golob said pro-choice advocates who want to limit sex-selective abortions are hypocrites.

"The only reason you would be for abortion is because you are saying that the pre-born are not human. And if they are not human, then it does not matter why anyone should kill them, whether they are female, whether they are going on vacation, or whether they don't want to be fat for nine months, it doesn't matter if they're not human. But if the pre-born are human then these are issues that must be addressed."

Ashton said Golob can choose whatever language she wants, but the focus ought to be on the government's "Trojan horse agenda."

"What we need to remind ourselves … [is] that whether or not a woman chooses to have an abortion, that's her right and that access to reproductive rights should be respected, and there should be access to the services," Ashton said.

With files from CBC News