Justin Trudeau says abortion not up to 'male legislators' to decide

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says women's rights, like the decision to end a pregnancy, can't be taken away by a House and Senate made up of mostly male legislators.

Liberal leader says women's rights can't be taken away by predominantly male Parliament

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks about his private member's bill to make government more transparent, during a news conference on June 11 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says women's rights, like the decision to end a pregnancy, can't be taken away by a House of Commons and Senate made up of mostly male legislators.

Responding to questions from reporters about his pro-choice stance — and his avowal that Liberal MPs elected in 2015 will vote along pro-choice lines — Trudeau said the decision to have an abortion belongs to the woman who's pregnant.

"I don't know that there's anyone in this country that is in favour of abortions. But what I am very much in favour of is a woman's right to make that determination on her own, in consultation with the medical community, in consultation with whoever she chooses to consult," Trudeau said.

"It is not for a room full of predominantly male legislators to take away those rights from women."

Just 25 per cent of Canadian MPs are women. Forty per cent of Canadian senators are women.

Pressed on gender-based abortions, the practice of ending a pregnancy based on the sex of the fetus, Trudeau referred to the Canadian Medical Association.

"I know that's something that the Canadian Medical Association has come out very strongly against and I trust them to continue to oversee the medical practices that surround it," he said.

No meeting yet with Ottawa archbishop

Last month, after Trudeau said his MPs would have to uphold party policy and vote against any limits on abortion, an Ottawa bishop suggested to CBC News that Trudeau, a Roman Catholic, may not be able to receive communion, and suggested Trudeau meet with Archbishop Terrence Prendergast.

Bishop Christian Riesbeck said that if the Liberal leader refused a meeting and continued to practise his Catholic faith in the form of receiving communion, it would be unseemly.

"It's the fact that he considers himself to be a devout Catholic but then adheres to, or advocates for, abortion," said Riesbeck. "That is scandalous," he said, as opposition to abortion has been a clear and unchanging teaching of the church.

Trudeau said Wednesday that his office responded to the archdiocese but no meeting has been set up. He said he's open to it.

"I look forward to sitting down with any and all faith leaders to talk about issues that are important to them. But the Liberal Party is unequivocal. We stand up for women's rights," he said.

Asked whether it was hard to hear he may not be able to receive communion at Ottawa churches, Trudeau said he wanted to hear it from Prendergast.

"I look forward to having a conversation with the bishop where he can explain, if that is the case, his views on that," he said.


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