OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is deeply disappointed in a “backsliding on women’s rights” happening in American states moving to ban abortion access.

Alabama’s legislature has passed a law banning virtually all abortions in the state and other southern and midwestern states are poised to make similar moves.

Trudeau told reporters in France today he regrets these U.S. developments.

“We very much regret what is happening, particularly in the United States, where they are moving backwards in terms of defending a women’s right to choose,” he said.

“As a government, as Canadians, we will always be unequivocal about defending a woman’s right to choose, defending women’s rights in general.”

Trudeau used the opportunity to also call out Conservative politicians in Canada for supporting anti-abortion initiatives — something Gender Equality Minister Maryam Monsef is also doing in Ottawa.

She has sent a letter to 12 Conservative MPs chastising them for marching in an anti-abortion rally on Parliament Hill last week.

The annual event sees thousands from church and school groups across Canada converge in Ottawa to protest laws that allow access to abortion services.

In her letter, Monsef tells the Conservative MPs that by attending these kinds of anti-abortion events or “empowering” other politicians who pledge to end abortion access, she believes they are demonstrating a willingness to re-open the abortion debate in Canada.

Monsef calls on the 12 MPs and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer to affirm their commitment to defend Canadian women’s access to reproductive health services and to work with the Liberal government to protect legal abortion services in Canada and across the world.

“Canadians — and Canadian women in particular — deserve to know whether or not the Conservative Party of Canada would take us backwards by restricting or undermining a woman’s right to choose,” Monsef says in her letter.

Last week, Ontario Progressive Conservative legislator Sam Oosterhoff pledged to make abortion “unthinkable” at an anti-abortion rally in Toronto. This prompted Premier Doug Ford to declare he would not introduce any abortion-related initiatives in the Ontario legislature, but he also defended Oosterhoff’s freedom to share his personal views on the matter.

Scheer has pledged not to reopen the abortion debate in Canada.

—Follow @ReporterTeresa on Twitter.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press


The Canadian Press