Faith Today

Two important private members bills need grassroots support

- / MAY / JUNE 2021

With this “At Issue” we introduce you to two distinct issues. Both are bills introduced in the House of Commons by individual MPs. Private members’ bills introduce a topic for debate in Parliament and can help raise awareness of an issue. They are only adopted if they have significan­t grassroots support.

The first issue is conscience protection, needed now more than ever as medical assistance in dying is expanded to include Canadians not dying and those with mental illness alone. Parliament is poised to study whether to allow medical assistance in dying for mature minors and those unable to consent at the time of the hastened death.

Doctors and other health care profession­als may object to medical assistance in dying on the basis of their conscience, religious beliefs, ethics or personal conviction­s. They may object to all euthanasia and assisted suicide, or they may object to it in particular circumstan­ces, for instance when a patient’s request is due to a lack of medical treatment or social support.

MP Kelly Block’s new private member’s bill, Bill C-268, would protect doctors, medical students and other medical profession­als from being coerced to participat­e in ending the lives of their patients. The EFC supports Bill C-268 and the clear, specific protection it would provide.

Another private member’s bill is about a ban on sex-selective abortion. Eighty-eight percent of respondent­s to a recent Canadian poll by DART & Maru/Blue oppose abortion when it is about the child being the wrong sex. Most Canadians agree there should be a law against terminatin­g the life of an unborn child on the basis of their sex.

Sex-selective abortion of girls takes place in Canada. Agencies like UN Women and the Office of the UN High Commission­er for Human Rights note gender-based sex selection typically occurs because of a systematic preference for boys, and refer to female infanticid­e and prenatal sex selection as harmful and unethical practices.

MP Cathay Wagantall’s private member’s Bill C-233 would discourage discrimina­tion on the basis of sex and prevent medical practition­ers from performing an abortion solely because of the child’s sex. The EFC supports Bill C-233 and its provisions to prevent doctors from carrying out an abortion motivated solely by the sex of the child.

“No one should have to participat­e in taking a patient’s life against their deeply held beliefs.” —Julia Beazley, director of public policy for the EFC

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