Trudeau to bring up anti-abortion laws in U.S. during meeting with VP Mike Pence

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence has arrived on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on a range of issues, including ratification of the new North American free trade agreement.

PM Trudeau says he'll bring up anti-abortion laws in U.S. during meeting with VP Thursday

Trudeau on Mike Pence visit and abortion rights

3 years ago
Duration 0:23
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will bring up the increasing number of U.S. states that have passed anti-abortion laws when he meets U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in Ottawa Thursday. 0:23

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence has arrived on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on a range of issues, including ratification of the new North American free trade agreement.

Pence arrived on Parliament Hill just before noon on Thursday and CBCNews.ca is carrying his visit live throughout the day. 

The vice-president's primary reason for coming to Ottawa is to push for the quick ratification of the of the new NAFTA, which the U.S. has renamed the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, or USMCA.

However, prior to his visit, the prime minister said the two will have a "broad conversation" that will include the growing number of new American laws restricting abortion at the state level.

"Obviously I am very concerned with the situation around the backsliding of women's rights that we're seeing from conservative movements here in Canada, in the United States and around the world," Trudeau said Wednesday.  

"I will have a broad conversation with the vice president in which, of course, that'll come up. But we're going to mostly focus on the ratification process of NAFTA and making sure that we get good jobs for Canadians."

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed a bill earlier this month banning abortion beyond eight weeks of pregnancy. The law allows exceptions in the case of a medical emergency — but not for pregnancies that result from rape or incest

Parson's state is one of eight where Republican-controlled legislatures this year have passed new restrictions on abortion.

Governors in Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia have approved bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can happen as early as the sixth week of pregnancy.

Earlier this month, Alabama's state legislature passed a law making it illegal for doctors to perform the procedure. Doctors that provide abortions in the state face a prison term of up to 99 years — and just as in Missouri, there are no provisions in the law for rape or incest.

Arkansas's newly passed law is less restrictive, banning abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy while providing exceptions under the law for incest, rape and medical emergencies.

In Indiana, two new laws dealing with abortion were passed this year, one of which gives doctors the legal option of refusing to perform an abortion.

No plans to reopen abortion debate: Scheer

Abortion has been legal in Canada since 1988, when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down laws against it.

The federal Liberals have accused the Conservatives of wanting to reopen the abortion debate — something party leader Andrew Scheer has insisted he will not do.

"The only person who is bringing up this issue time and time again is Justin Trudeau," Scheer said. "I've made it very, very clear. Canadians can have absolute confidence that a Conservative government after the election in October will not reopen this issue."

After question period Wednesday, Bloc Quebecois MP Monique Pauzé stood and asked her fellow MPs to reaffirm that "a woman's body belongs to her and to her alone and recognize her right to choose an abortion regardless of the reason."

Bloc, NDP and Liberal MPs gave Pauzé a standing ovation, while Conservative MPs remained seated. 

Mike Pence and NAFTA

After question period, Trudeau tabled the implementation bill for the recently renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement.

Speaking to MPs in the House of Commons afterward, Trudeau thanked Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland ​​​​​​, Ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton and the negotiating teams that worked on the deal.

"The new NAFTA will secure access to a trading zone that accounts for more than a quarter of the global economy and it is now time for the members of this House to ratify it," he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has yet to make a state visit to Canada, stopping here only briefly for the G7 summit in La Malbaie, Que. last year."The vice president looks forward to meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau to discuss how to move forward swiftly to advance this critical deal," said Alyssa Farah, Pence's press secretary.

Freeland said earlier this week that Canada will move ahead with ratification "in tandem with the United States," which is facing a more challenging ratification process because U.S. Democrats have expressed a desire to reopen the deal. 

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