Justin Trudeau intends to raise the issue of abortion rights with Mike Pence, when the US Vice President visits Canada this week.
Pence will be in the city of Ottawa on Thursday to move forward with efforts to ratify the new US-Canada-Mexico trade deal, but Trudeau said Wednesday that he will also bring up the issue of the ‘backsliding’ on women’s rights.
“Obviously I’m very concerned with the situation around the backsliding of women’s rights that we’re seeing from conservative movements here in Canada, in the United States and around the world. I will have a broad conversation with the Vice President in which of course that will come up,” the Canadian Prime Minister told reporters in Ottawa, adding that his main focus remains the new trade deal.
Pence and Trudeau differ dramatically on abortion: Pence is one of the US Republican Party’s staunchest opponents of abortion, and family planning organization Planned Parenthood says he has led efforts to restrict reproductive rights and stacked the Trump administration with anti-abortion advocates.
In contrast, Trudeau has been unequivocal in support for access to abortion, including access to abortions later in a pregnancy. “Late” abortions typically refer to abortions at or after 21 weeks of pregnancy, less than 1.3% of all US abortions.
“The days when old men get to decide what a woman does with her body are long gone,” he tweeted in 2014. And before his election in 2015, Trudeau told his party’s candidates that they would be ‘expected to vote pro-choice’ on future legislation.
Earlier this month, while on a trip to Paris, Trudeau went out of his way to draw attention to a new crop of US state laws aimed at banning or limiting abortion. “As a government, as Canadians we will always be unequivocal about defending women’s right to choose, defending women’s rights in general. It’s a shame that we increasingly see conservative governments and conservative politicians taking away rights that have been hard fought over many, many years by generations of women and male allies,” he told reporters.
Abortions are legal in Canada and available at hospitals and private clinics. In most cases abortions are covered by provincial government health insurance plans which means they are essentially free.
According to Canada’s National Abortion Federation, Canada is one of only a few countries where there is no national law restricting abortion. However, patients continue to report problems with delays and access.
Trudeau’s interest in American abortion laws comes as he continues to accuse his own local conservative opponents of not supporting women’s rights. Canadians will vote in a federal election this fall, and while Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has said repeatedly that he has no interest in resurrecting an abortion debate in Canada, Trudeau insists that a Conservative-led government would move to restrict abortion.
Scheer has often said that he votes in favor of anti-abortion legislation, but earlier this month also said that he found it “appalling and disgusting” that Trudeau’s Liberal party would use the abortion issue to “divide Canadians.”