Green party leader Elizabeth May says her abortion stance “massively misreported”

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      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.

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      Comments

      13 Comments

      zenmonkr

      Apr 14, 2011 at 9:04am

      ask the nuns if they think pedophilia is morally wrong and the pope should be charged with conspiracy for covering up abuses by priests

      Bruno15

      Apr 14, 2011 at 10:42am

      We are trying to pin down the Greens on this position??? How about if we pin down the Evangelical Party of Canada (also known as the Conservatives) on this issue. And I don't mean their position on whether or not they are going to try to change current law, but their position on if they agree with current law. How does the press let this go unreported??????

      Not so simple

      Apr 14, 2011 at 9:39pm

      Okay, everyone who thinks they know what they think about this issue...

      If legally, anyone can get an abortion for any reason at any time, what about the ethics of the following situations:

      * A woman finds out her fetus may have Down Syndrome, hydrocephalus, etc. She decides to abort based on her reluctance to raise a child with a disability (most women who find out thier fetus is disabled decide to abort). Is this okay?

      * A woman finds out she is going to have a girl. Either boys or preferred in her culture, or she would just prefer to have a boy for whatever reason. So she aborts. Is this okay with you?

      * A woman decides when she is eight months pregnant that she would rather not have the baby. So, even though the child would survive on its own at this point, if it were simply removed through Ceasarean, she decides to abort. (according to Canada's laws, she can). Is this morally okay?

      Given how much prenatal testing has changed since abortion laws were enacted 30 years ago or so, is having a conversation about this stuff really so bad?

      It seems that the left is screaming that ANY infringement on a woman's right to choose is a roll-back in women's power. I'm not sure it's that simple anymore.

      Women are responsible for a massive genocide of disabled and female fetuses, worldwide, through abortion. The numbers are in the hundreds of millions. And the underlying cause - revulsion against disabled people and girls - is troubling. While that revulsion obviously can't be solved through restriction on abortion, neither should women get off the hook for their decisions, based on the fact that abortion is legal.

      I don't have any problem with May's comments. A little reflection on abortion - notice she never called into question a woman's right to choose - is perfectly appropriate, in 2011, for Canada's left.

      I wish she stood behind her original statements. But given the media's urge to oversimplify the issue, I understand why she's waffling.

      Fernanda

      Apr 15, 2011 at 12:19am

      Obviously if May was feeling strongly about women`s bodily autonomy rights, if she was truly pro-woman and pro-choice, she would never have given that speech in front of the nuns.
      And it`s interesting how nearly every anti-feminist woman considers herself to be a feminist these days! The likes of May and Palin don`t even know what feminism is all about. You simply cannot be anti-choice AND a feminist! Got it ladies?

      scissorpaws

      Apr 15, 2011 at 5:16am

      Nobody is for abortion. Nobody wants more abortions. Supporting birth control and educating girls about sex and making available condoms and "morning-after" pills reduces abortions. These parties who are "pro-life" are the last when it comes to child care. Assistance to ensure single parents stay out of poverty and give their children every opportunity to grow up healthy and well educated is Pro Life.

      James Father

      Apr 15, 2011 at 11:02am

      Abortion has nothing to do with feminism. It has to do with pregnancy.
      All feminist do not get pregnant. And possibly less of them do than women supporters of right to life.
      Any stats on this are appreciated?

      Abortion is an Agenda 21 promoted program. Unless you know about Agenda 21 then you will not see the bigger picture agenda
      that is being met by the 100million abortions to-date globally.
      Getting into a feminist vs non feminist argument serves Agenda 21
      that the feminist movement did not create but was mostly men that
      created it that are not feminists. Don't let you genital differences deprive you of being informed. Agenda 21, are you in it or against it is a more important issue than feminist or non. Thank you, AdvisorX

      Alana LaPerle

      Apr 18, 2011 at 7:14pm

      Thank you, Elizabeth, for clarifying your position. I almost voted for Green on the belief that any party leader that made Judy Rebbick tear up her cheque was worth a second look! I will certainly continue to ignore you and your party.

      M. McC.

      Apr 19, 2011 at 1:45pm

      I was going to vote Green in the last election based on Elizabeth May's comments on abortion. Bu then she started backpedalling and so I decided that she wasn't worth my time.

      JeninCanada

      Apr 25, 2011 at 8:51pm

      It's alright to have a subtle and nuanced position on abortion. If you're personally prolife, as Elizabeth seems to be, that's great. Don't get an abortion. You can be prolife personally and prochoice politically, realizing that whatever decision a woman makes must be supported & respected.