Ambrose’s vote in favour of fetus-rights motion raises ire of women’s groups

Women’s groups are asking whether Rona Ambrose is the right person to lead Canada’s Status of Women agency after she voted in favour of a controversial motion to study the legal rights of the fetus.

The Conservative MP surprised many on Wednesday when she joined nine other cabinet ministers and about half of the Conservative caucus in supporting the motion, which was widely viewed as a potential first step to reopening a debate on abortion in Canada. The private member’s motion did not have the support of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Conservative MPs had been encouraged to vote against it.

Ms. Ambrose declined to explain her decision on Thursday, even as groups including the Canadian Women’s Health Network and the Quebec Women’s Federation said her vote was incompatible with her role as Minister for the Status of Women.

“It’s incredulous to us that she should be in this position when she voted against reproductive rights, which are one of the cornerstones of women’s safety,” said Janet Currie, a board member of the Canadian Women’s Health Network. “She should not be in the position if she actually believes what she voted for.”

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