Federal candidates present bill to limit abortions

Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson speaks during the recent Peoples Party of Canada rally at the Radisson hotel in Red Deer. Thompson, who ran against NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in the Burnaby-South byelection, is now running in Red Deer-Lacombe. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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Two People’s Party of Canada candidates in the Alberta region want to find common ground on the abortion debate.

Paul Mitchell and Laura-Lynn Thompson are running for seats in the federal election for Red Deer-Mountain View and Red Deer-Lacombe ridings, respectively. If either wins their riding, they intend to present a private member’s bill to restrict abortions after 24 weeks of gestation.

“It is time for candidates across our country to stand … after the election politicians will avoid the abortion topic, but for 30 years Canada has been the only developed country with no abortion law. This is a reckless failure by Parliament, and the time for waiting is over. Decades of cowardice ends now,” Thompson said.

Her rallying call follows a press conference held on Aug. 7 where she and Mitchell announced their co-sponsored bill. As of Aug. 13, 27 candidates for the federal election have pledged their personal support for the bill, all of which are members of the PPC.

Titled “The Protection of Preborn Children Act,” the bill seeks to limit late-term abortions as premature babies can potentially survive outside the womb after 23 weeks if they are in intensive care. Exceptions in the bill include cases where the pregnant person’s life or health is at risk or if the baby has a lethal abnormality or no brain function.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, induced abortions reported by hospitals in 2016 after 21 weeks was 616, making up only 2.7 per cent of the total number.

Mitchell said “this doesn’t need to be a partisan issue” and welcomes candidates from all parties to join in support to “build a strong coast-to-coast coalition” by election time.

Andrew Scheer, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, has insisted his party will not reopen the issue if elected. However, it is unclear whether MPs could vote freely on the issue if it was presented on the floor.

In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada determined that restrictions on abortions are unconstitutional. Provinces have outlined their own restrictions, and in Alberta, a doctor cannot terminate a pregnancy after 20 weeks.

“After 30 years with no law in Canada, a debate on abortion in Parliament is long overdue. Viable late-term preborn Canadian babies must be allowed to live, and I will fight for this,” Mitchell said.