B.C. Conservative leader pledges not to ‘reopen the abortion debate’

The leader of the Conservative Party of BC is pledging not to “reopen the abortion debate” after one of his MLAs appeared to suggest motherhood begins at conception.

Abbotsford South MLA Bruce Banman made the comments in the legislative assembly Tuesday.

“From the moment of conception through the journey of pregnancy and motherhood, and throughout the myriad of challenges of triumphs that follow, motherhood is the nurturing force that sustains life and shapes our future,” Banman said.

Those comments prompted the NDP caucus to issue a statement calling Banman’s words an “anti-choice dog whistle.” The BC Green Party also issued a call Wednesday for all party leaders to take a clear stand on abortion access.

Click to play video: 'Access to abortion: the rural-urban divide in B.C.'

Access to abortion: the rural-urban divide in B.C.

BC Conservative Leader John Rustad issued a statement late Thursday accusing the NDP of “grasping at straws” following a recent poll showing the parties neck and neck.

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“The 1988 Supreme Court decision is clear. This is not a provincial issue. No politician at the provincial level can change that decision,” Rustad said.

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That prompted Premier David Eby to fire back on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, that in 2024 “Someone who wants to be Premier of B.C. should be able to say they’re pro-choice.”

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The B.C. government to fund so-called ‘abortion pill’

BC United Leader Kevin Falcon declined to comment on the Conservative party but said his own party’s policies were clear.

“Women have the right to choose, that has been the position of our party for a long time that position has not changed,” he said.

While provinces do not have the power to ban abortion in Canada, they do have significant ability to expand or restrict access through control of health care funding.

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New Brunswick, for example, does not fund surgical abortions outside of hospitals, leaving people seeking a termination with just three choices after the province’s only private clinic closed due to lack of funding.

The provincial government also controls funding for abortion drugs like Mifegymiso.

Women’s health advocates say B.C. already faces significant gaps in access to abortion care, with virtually all services offered in urban centres.

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New Brunswick medical groups call for greater abortion access following Clinic 554 closure

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