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This article was published 14/4/2010 (4183 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg South MP Rod Bruinooge introduced a new bill in the House of Commons on Wednesday, aimed at protecting pregnant women against abortion intimidation.
'Roxanne's Law,' named in memory of a pregnant Winnipeg woman who was murdered by her partner after she refused to have an abortion, is a private member's bill that would make it a criminal offence for anyone to coerce a woman to terminate her pregnancy.
Working as the chair of the multi-party parliamentary pro-life caucus, Bruinooge, a staunch supporter of the pro-life position, said he has heard of several cases of intimidation of young pregnant women to have an abortion, and hopes making it a crime will curb those instances.
"It's not just as simple as feeling pressured to get an abortion; there is a lot of discussion of sex-selection abortion these days, as well," Bruinooge said, referring to the scenario where a woman is pressured to abort once the sex of the fetus is determined. "It's part of the overall topic of intimidation that goes towards a pregnant woman."
News of the bill was not met with open arms from pro-choice advocates. Joyce Arthur, coordinator of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, called the proposed law "a basic fear tactic" and wonders if the proposed amendment is being considered to get around existing Canadian abortion laws.
"They're trying to intimidate and scare abortion providers," she said. "Providers could find themselves facing prosecution for coercing abortion."
Arthur maintains the bill steps on the toes of a successful system that's already in place and undermines the good work pregnancy support groups do. Counsellors at clinics are on the front-lines educating people on the rights of the woman, outlining the choices they have and how the decision to see the pregnancy to term is theirs and theirs alone.
"It's a solution looking for a problem that doesn't really exist," Arthur said. "Typically, women who are coerced into having an abortion are already caught at the counselling stage."
Bruinooge said 'Roxanne's Law' would not limit a woman's access to abortion in Canada, and that providers should not feel exposed by the law.
"Abortion will continue to be legal in Canada," he said. "Anyone providing information in a non-threatening way is entirely legitimate. Someone shouldn't feel threatened towards a decision, though."