Motion 312 redefinition of life defeated: shocking votes spark controversy

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Motion 312 was brought forward by Conservative Member of Parliament, Stephen Woodworth, to study the Criminal Code’s definition of a human being. The current definition states that a child is considered to be a human once it has fully left its mother’s body. The motion was carried and put to a free vote, allowing individuals to vote on the issue based on their personal opinion rather than that of their political party, also called a conscience vote.

On Sept. 26 the motion was defeated after voting took place, however the results of the vote revealed some surprising truths about certain political figures.

Many say that Motion 312 was simply a way to reopen the abortion debate. Women’s rights activist Kimberly Blue says, “One cannot generalize an issue that is so case sensitive, every choice holds different circumstances, pressures and issues. A blanket law will just not cut it.” Blue says that both sides of the argument are present in the female community, but it is ultimately a matter of personal choice.

The vote itself yielded interesting results. Although almost half of the conservative party voted in favour of the motion, Prime Minister Stephen Harper voted against it. “He most likely just doesn’t want to deal with the abortion issue. It was politically motivated; the free vote let him off the hook,” says Blue. Harper himself told the public that he had no intention of re-opening the abortion debate in a CBC interview in January of 2011. He states that the abortion issue is one that he has been trying to avoid his whole political career. Another shocking vote was that of public works and status of women minister, Rona Ambrose. There was outrage in the female community when Ambrose voted in favour of Motion 312. She has been publicly criticized by women’s rights critics and numerous petitions against her have been created, “It would have been a huge step backward for women’s rights,” says Blue.

The motion was defeated 203 to 91 and the abortion debate has been put to rest at least for now.  Blue says,”I wish they wouldn’t waste time, there are so many issues in need of attention that rehashing old arguments that have already been put to rest by the legislation makes no sense.” The female community would gain nothing from motion 312,” says student Christine Stewart, “the pro-life women aren’t going to get abortions anyway, so it would have just taken away the freedom of the women who do want a choice.” But their votes have kept them safe and the freedom to choose lives to fight another day.



Emily is in her fourth year of Political Science. She loves studying and academics which follows into her research work. She's a stern black coffee drinker and is a proud Acadienne. When she's not working or doing school work, you can find Emily listening to 70s music on vinyl and watching Parks and Recreation. If you ask her about parliamentary institutions, she won't stop talking.