NORTH Shore MPs John Weston and Andrew Saxton found themselves on opposite sides of a vote in the House of Commons this week after parliamentarians weighed in Wednesday on a private member’s bill tied to the abortion issue.
Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth introduced the bill that called for parliament to reconsider the definition of when human life begins.
Members of parliament defeated the bill 201 to 93 in a free vote.
Weston, MP for West Vancouver Sunshine Coast Sea to Sky, was one of 13 Conservative members of parliament from B.C. who voted in favour of the legislation, which critics viewed as a possible prelude to more restrictive abortion laws. Several cabinet ministers also voted in favour.
Saxton, MP for neighbouring North Vancouver, voted against the bill, as did Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
In an interview Friday, Weston said he voted in favour of the bill after considering a “large amount of input” from constituents on both sides of the debate.
“You try to weigh what your constituents have to say,” he said.
Currently, the law defines human life as beginning when a child has left its mother’s body.
Weston said that definition is out of step with common sense and modern understanding about when life begins.
He said he thought it was an issue worthy of discussion.
Critics saw the private member’s bill as an attempt to re-open the abortion debate. Since a previous abortion law was struck down in 1988, abortion has been largely unrestricted in Canada.
Saxton said he voted against the private member’s bill because “we made a promise we wouldn’t reopen the debate (on abortion). The party ran on that.”
Saxton said he received a lot of mail and email from constituents on both sides of the abortion debate leading up to last week’s vote.