Canada’s pro-choice community has denounced Conservative MP Rob Merrifield’s recent proposal for third party “informed consent” counseling for women who have abortions.

“Women seeking abortions already receive adequate informed consent from their doctors or from trained counselors at abortion clinics,” said Joyce Arthur, spokesperson for the Pro-Choice Action Network. “Women aren’t stupid, they don’t need to be told twice, or be force-fed anti-abortion propaganda disguised as informed consent.”

Arthur said, “It’s an insult to professional health care workers to declare that a third party needs to step in and do their job for them, especially when this requirement singles out abortion and no other medical service.” Arthur noted that doctors are governed by professional codes of ethics such as that of the Canadian Medical Association . This code contains informed consent guidelines that cover all medical services and treatments.

In addition, Arthur confirmed that abortion clinic counselors already provide women with complete, accurate, and unbiased information on all pregnancy options, as well as information on birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, the side effects and possible complications of abortion, as well as other necessary or requested information. “Obviously, no extra regulation is required for abortion. Legislating informed consent would simply impede women’s access to this required health service,” she said.

“Merrifield has let his anti-choice ideology trump his common sense. Forcing anti-abortion policies into an election campaign is political suicide,” said Arthur.

“What candidates should be discussing instead during this election campaign is how to improve and streamline access to abortion.” Arthur noted there are four provinces still flouting the Canada Health Act by refusing to fully fund abortions in clinics. Also, fewer than one in five hospitals in Canada even perform abortions. “We want MP’s from all parties to put pressure on provinces to obey the law and fund required health services like abortion, and to help their women constituents by ensuring abortion services are available at local hospitals.”

Altercation at Harper rally in Guelph

Stephen Harper needs to tell Canadians whether he still holds the same view as when he was leader of the Canadian Alliance Party — that it is acceptable for the Parliament of Canada to take away the Charter rights of lesbian and gay people. At a Harper rally in Guelph, an attempt to ask that question resulted in an altercation. Harper refused to give a clear answer when asked by reporters in Toronto and in Hamilton.

“Mr. Harper seems determined to avoid answering the straightforward question of whether he would use the notwithstanding clause to take away the Charter rights of gay and lesbian Canadians,” said Laurie Arron, political coordinator of Canadians for Equal Marriage. Arron had tried to ask that question of Harper at a rally in Guelph, which he was attending with volunteer Bob Smyth. However, instead of receiving an answer, Arron was shouted down and physically removed from the building.

“Mr. Harper seems determined to avoid any contact with the public,” continued Arron. “And even when the public is invited to an event, there is no opportunity to ask questions. It seemed that the only way to be heard by Mr. Harper was to respond to his claim of compassion.”

“Instead of an answer, we were met by anger at having dared to ask the notwithstanding question in a room full of Conservative supporters,” said Bob Smyth. “People started shouting âe~shut up, shut up, shut up, and then a few of them used their signs to hit him. When I tried to stop them one man punched me.”

“The obvious question is — compassion for whom?” added Arron. “Mr. Harper may have compassion for those who are just like him, but what about Canadians who are different? Today itâe(TM)s gay and lesbian Canadians. Who will it be tomorrow?”

From Optimus Crime

New Tory slogan: “That was the candidate’s own personal view; no, that is not part of our party policy.”

For the third time in a week, Harper has had to distance his party from the “personal views” of his candidates. The Conservatives, Harper assured voters earlier, are newly keen on bilingualism and abortion rights. Yesterday, after a candidate gushed warmly about capital punishment, Harper leaped in to remind voters that the new Warm Fuzzy Centrist Tories aren’t planning to bring back capital punishment: “Mr. Harper has no intention of introducing legislation on capital punishment now or in the future and has no intention of seeking a referendum on it,” their media release read.