No new abortion law, Harper says

NIAGARA FALLS, ONT.—A new abortion law for Canada just isn’t in the cards, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday as the issue continues to bubble and backbench Conservatives press for new legislation.

Harper’s statement came in response to a question about a private member’s bill by Conservative backbencher Rod Bruinooge, who wants to penalize anyone who “coerces” a woman into ending her pregnancy. “I generally don’t comment on private member’s legislation,” the prime minister said.  “But I have been clear: I will oppose any attempt to create a new abortion law.”

It’s not the first time Harper has expressed opposition to an abortion law, but the charged issue has come to the surface with his refusal to fund abortions as part of a G8 maternal-health initiative.  Harper’s view also comes amid a motion by Quebec demanding clarification of his government’s position on the issue.

In Quebec this past week, politicians on both sides of the legislature unanimously adopted a pro-choice motion tabled by the Opposition Parti Quebecois.

The motion demanded the federal government continue to respect free access to abortion, end its “ambiguity” on the issue, and stop cutting funding to women’s groups that favour abortion.

Women’s groups accused Harper of hypocrisy, while thousands of anti-abortion activists marched on Parliament Hill in protest this month.

Pro-choice activists later staged a “die-in” at the office of the government’s international development minister.

Leaders of the world’s G8 and G20 nations gather next month in Ontario.

A Harper spokesman has previously said opposition critics are determined to politicize the issue despite the PM’s stand against bringing in any abortion law.

In 2008, the Harper government blocked a bill from Conservative MP Ken Epp that would have made it a separate offence for killing a fetus when a pregnant woman was murdered.

Canada has been without an abortion law since 1988 — one of the few countries in the world without legal restrictions — when the Supreme Court struck down the existing legislation at the time as unconstitutional.

Harper was in this border city Friday for an announcement on the expansion of Niagara Falls History Museum ahead of bicentennial celebrations of the War of 1812.

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