Monday, June 17, 2024
News, analysis and commentary by UBC Journalism students

Secret anti-choice caucus?

Did you know about the existence of the secretive-but-not-so-secret Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus? Perhaps this makes me a horribly uninformed journalist,…

By Katie Hyslop , in Hot Politics , on February 2, 2009

Did you know about the existence of the secretive-but-not-so-secret Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus? Perhaps this makes me a horribly uninformed journalist, but up until last Thursday night when I stumbled onto an article referencing the caucus whilst researching for my blog post, I was blissfully unaware of its existence.

It’s difficult to explain much about the caucus because it is so hush-hush, but it is currently headed by Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge. It’s not just a Conservative party pet-project, either; apparently the caucus is over a decade old, includes members from all three major political parties, and was apparently once co-chaired by Liberal MP Paul Steckle.

Needless to say, the existence of this caucus makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I have no quarrel with MPs being pro-life; they are entitled to their own opinion. I do have a quarrel with them using my tax dollars to convene on a political agenda that would take away a woman’s legally recognized right to choose what happens to her body.

Granted, I don’t know what this caucus is doing, but I highly doubt that they are holding get-togethers just to complain about how abortion is legal in Canada and ending the meeting with, “Oh well, we can’t change the law.”

Are there other secret caucuses that support overturning Canadian laws? I know there are quite a few MPs who don’t agree with gay marriage being legalized in Canada — could they have their own caucus? Or would that constitute a hate group? I know LBGT activists, and even a good percentage of the Canadian public, would kick up a stink about the existence of such a caucus, so why is the existence of a pro-life caucus going unquestioned?

U.S. President Barack Obama recently reversed a Ronald Regan decision to refuse funding to overseas medical clinics that advertise or promote abortion or “family planning.” The Mexico-City Policy (named because it was announced in Mexico City, not because Regan thought Mexico was overseas — I hope) was overturned by Bill Clinton, but reinstated by George W. Bush. Oddly enough, according to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll of Americans, this is the least-popular move made by Obama thus far, with only 35 per cent of those polledin approval.

Obama doesn’t strike me as a dumb man — even George W. Bush knew that abortion was a contentious issue in America — and yet he recognized the unfair and possibly harmful repercussions of denying funding to clinics based on practicing something that is legal in the United States.

When is it that United States became a better place for women to live than Canada? Obama also recently signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act which gives any woman the right to sue for pay discrimination whenever she discovers it, eradicating the former 180 day statute of limitations.

Given the federal government’s recent statements about pay equity avenues for women in this country, for the first time ever, I’m jealous of America. I’m not about to move there, after all Canada is better off in this economic crisis. But it just goes to show what kind of situation we’re in when the United States of America treats its women better than we do.