Elizabeth May is eager to clear up any confusion about her views on abortion.
The Green Party of Canada leader says her position on this hot-button issue has been “massively misreported”.
“I’ve been a feminist all my life, or at least as long as I’ve been conscious of being a woman,” May said during an interview at the Georgia Straight offices. “So, women must have access to legal, safe abortions, whenever a woman needs one.”
According to the Saanich-Gulf Islands candidate, the Green party’s “pro-life, pro-choice” policy on abortion is one of sources of the confusion.
“If a woman is in a situation where she’d like to keep her child and needs support, we also want to be there to support that choice and also to ensure that as much as possible we, in our society, provide—not just for women, but for male partners—responsibility, birth-control information in order to avoid unwanted pregnancies,” May said of the policy. “So, it’s a mixed and nuanced position, but there’s absolutely no wiggle room on maintaining the right of women in this country to safe and legal abortions.”
In 2006, May stirred controversy during the federal by-election in Ontario’s London North Centre riding—where she ended up placing second—when she told nuns at a convent that she has talked women out of having abortions and could not imagine any circumstances that would have caused her to have an abortion.
“If one group of people say a woman has a right to choose, I get queasy because I’m against abortion,” May said at the time, according an audio recording posted online. “I don’t think a woman has a frivolous right to choose. What I don’t want is a desperate woman to die in an illegal abortion.”
This week, May told the Straight that she was trying to explain to the London nuns “why their belief in right to life means that they should support abortion”.
Asked if she thinks abortion is morally wrong, May replied, “No.”
“I don’t think that anyone is for abortion in the sense that you hope people are going to have abortions,” the Green leader elaborated. “You hope in an ideal world that every pregnancy is a wanted pregnancy. My friends and family members who’ve ever gone through abortions have found it a traumatically difficult decision to make. It’s a personally difficult decision. You can’t trivialize how hard that choice is. But a women has a right to make that choice, and it’s not a morally wrong decision by any means.”
May stressed that there’s “no room for going backwards” on the abortion issue.
“I’m very militant about it,” May said. “So, being misreported on it has driven me slightly mad.”
You can follow Stephen Hui on Twitter at twitter.com/stephenhui.