“I would welcome any member who wanted to bring it forward in the Legislature”
Doug Ford says he’d “welcome” MPPs tabling dangerous and likely unconstitutional legislation making it harder for young women to access abortions in Ontario.
In an interview with anti-abortion activists, the Ontario PC leadership candidate indicated he would allow members of his caucus to table and hold free votes on legislation restricting access to abortions in the province.
That includes a controversial idea to violate doctor-patient confidentiality and give parents veto power over their pregnant teenger’s abortion.
In the interview with RightNow – a hardline social conservative group that works to elect politicians who will back anti-abortion legislation and awarded Ford 50 out of 60 points on “policies and principles” on abortion issues – Ford was asked whether he thinks “there should be restrictions on abortion in Ontario?”
“I am personally pro-life” and “I believe in the sanctity of life,” Ford told the anti-abortion group, but said he would not personally “reopen the abortion debate” – on the other hand, he added that he would not mind if other members of his caucus reopened the abortion debate instead:
“I will allow MPPs to draft, bring forward and debate any legislation that is important to them … I will never muzzle members of our caucus.”
Ford was also asked specifically if he would support “the introduction of legislation that would mandate parental involvement when a minor requests an abortion.”
Here’s how Ford responded:
“You know, most procedures in this province require a minor to have the consent of a parent. I can’t think of a more life-changing procedure for a young woman than an abortion. I think that is an important discussion to have and I would welcome any member who wanted to bring it forward in the Legislature to do so.”
Leaving aside Ford’s factually incorrect claim that minors already require parental consent for medical procedures, forcing teenagers to get parental permission for a medical procedure like an abortion is most likely unconstitutional.
Saskatchewan’s right-wing government sought a legal opinion on parental consent laws in 2016, but the province’s Ministry of Justice concluded there was “little doubt” the Supreme Court would rule any legislation “requiring minor girls to get their parents’ consent before undergoing an abortion would violate the girl’s rights.”
Canada’s Supreme Court has also already ruled that male partners have no right to veto a woman’s decision to have an abortion either.
Constitutional issues aside, the idea is also dangerous and unethical.
Responding to similar restrictions in right-wing Republican states, the American Medical Association has stated parental consent laws breaches the doctor-patient confidentiality of minors and violates the Association’s code of medical ethics.
And according to research from the University of California San Francisco, one-third of young women who chose not to involve their parents in their abortion procedure explicitly cited fears of reprisal, including physical violence.
Mulroney said “if this type of legislation is brought forward, I would vote against it” while Elliott noted she is “personally pro-choice” – both hedged their answers by stressing the independence of backbenchers on “matters of conscience,” however.
Since joining the race to replace disgraced former Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown, Ford has courted the party’s social conservative base, with many left disillusioned after Brown flip-flopped on his opposition to the province’s sex-ed curriculum.
Last month, Ford collected a pair of endorsements from two controversial pastors with a history of preaching homophobic and anti-Semitic views.