The new season of The Handmaid’s Tale doesn’t drop for another month but look no further than recent headlines on abortion if you want your fix of government representatives attempting to roll back reproductive rights in North America. This year, abortion rights have been under attack in America at an unprecedented rate since Roe V. Wade. Just this week, Georgia signed into law a bill that will ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected — that’s weeks before most women know they are pregnant. The anti-abortion movement has also been emboldened in Ontario.
On Thursday, at an anti-choice rally in front of Queen's Park in Toronto, Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff told the crowd that abortion should be “unthinkable,” reports the CBC.
"We have survived 50 years of abortion in Canada and we pledge to fight to make abortion unthinkable in our lifetime," Oosterhoff said. "I'm pro-life. I believe children should be allowed to live, no matter how small they are.”
Oosteroff is referring to the 50-year anniversary of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau decriminalizing contraception and allowing abortion under certain medical circumstances. Today, abortion in Canada is legal and governed by the Canada Health Act. In countries where abortion is banned, illegal abortions are the leading cause of maternal mortality. There are also plenty of stats that prove that abortion restrictions do not decrease the number of abortions that take place, just the number of safe ones.
Oosteroff’s comments were made at the first March for Life rally in Toronto. A similar one took place in Ottawa on Parliament Hill and in Alberta on the same day. Addressing the crowd, the 21-year-old MPP thanked the anti-choice advocates for “believ[ing] in the rights of mothers and children.” He also referred to the people gathered around as “trailblazers.”
"I have no problem talking about the importance respecting life no matter how small child is,” Oosteroff told CBC News, before using the words of the author of The Cat in The Hat to drive home his point. "To quote Dr. Seuss, ‘A person's a person no matter how small.’" This quote is often used by anti-abortion groups. When he was still alive, Seuss threatened to sue an organization for using the quote on their letterhead.
Oosteroff is the youngest MPP in Ontario history and just one of a new wave of Gen Zers in Canada who are joining the country’s anti-abortion movement, according to Flare. He’s also not the only Ontario MPP who attended the Toronto rally — he was joined by Will Bouma, the MPP for Brantford-Brant, and Scarborough Centre MPP Christina Mitas. Mitas tweeted that a fellow MPP opposing her anti-choice rhetoric was “trying to silence female voices.”
You're better than this @coteau - I, and the female dominated audience, took a difficult and unpopular stance on an important issue. Do you really want to go on record as being another liberal male leader trying to silence female voices? #onpoli https://t.co/lOe1Lz0EhB— Christina Mitas, MPP (@Christina_Mitas) May 9, 2019
All three MPPs belong to Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative Party. When the premier was asked for a comment on his MPP’s stance on abortion, he deflected. He then issued the following statement:
"The Ontario PC Party is a big tent. We welcome members from a wide variety of backgrounds and beliefs. The government will not re-open the abortion debate."
Opposition leaders are condemning the MPP’s anti-abortion rally. “I think it’s particularly disrespectful to women, about a woman’s right to choose,” said Green Party leader Mike Schriener.
Andrea Horwath, NDP leader and Hamilton Centre MPP, said she was “horrified that Doug Ford continues to refuse to denounce his MPP's dangerous, anti-choice and anti-women position," she said. "Every woman has the right to make decisions about her health care, her family and her body, including the decision to seek a safe medical abortion. Sam Oosterhoff and Doug Ford have no right to attack that."