Stephen Woodworth, author of Motion 312, addresses the National March for Life in May 2010. BCC file photo.
It's no surprise that Motion 312 died in Parliament Sept. 26. Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth's private motion faced vocal opposition from the NDP, but also from the leadership in his own party. Conservative politicians were asked not to support the motion by their boss, Stephen Harper, who argued - alongside the NDP - the motion would "reopen the abortion debate."
Fact check: the abortion debate in Canada has never been closed.
Now that we're over that, what was the real force driving the purple-faced anger by the NDP and even the incredulous opposition of Harper and his chief whip Gordon O'Connor?
After all, M-312 sought to establish a committee to review the definition of when human life begins, as recognized by the law. Right now it's after complete birth. (Though any rational person knows that that kicking, hiccupping, arms-flailing, perfectly-formed-at-10 weeks baby spinning around in its mother's womb is a human being.) The motion didn't seek to recriminalize abortion.
But the fury from the NDP's Francoise Boivin and Niki Ashton revealed the truth of the motion's opposition. They said they were voting against the motion because it was designed to recriminalize abortion. But that irrational answer wasn't true. No, they voted against the motion out of fear.
Every MP who voted against the motion knew, and was afraid to assert, the logical conclusion of a yes vote for M-312. That yes vote says, "Okay, let's shine some light on the dirty business of abortion." And it's true that darkness hates the light.
They all knew that to examine when the law should recognize human life would lead to the logical conclusion that life doesn't begin after birth - that it does begin well before birth. Why else would anyone be afraid to debate our legal definition of the beginnings of life?
If a child is human before birth that would blow a hole in the pro-abortion movement's number one argument: that to have an abortion is akin to having a wart removed. Pro-choicers claim a fetus is like an appendix, not a living human being, and therefore it's morally acceptable to have an abortion. That is the moral lie they live with and use to justify abortion.
The motion went down 203-91. And though it was defeated, there is hope for pro-lifers. As Archbishop Miller said after the vote, he hopes the day "marks the beginning of a period of discussion about the reality of abortion" and that politicians will in future find the courage to support life in the womb.
The motion surely does do that. Another motion, M-408, from Langley MP Mark Warawa, will soon keep this debate going, as M-408 asks "That the House condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination."
So we will be hearing more about the need to limit abortion at some point. We need to start thinking about abortion differently in Canada, and these debates are helping us.
The debate over when to limit abortion is coming. Woodworth's motion has finally opened the door, and it won't be closed now, not by fear, or purple-faced fury.