Unequivocally, yes. The Canadian public is well aware that abortion coercion takes place in this country. The media has raised awareness of this issue through coverage of some of the more tragic stories of women who have suffered coercion.
In 2007, Canadians learned details about the death of Roxanne Fernando, for whom Bill C-510 is named, who was murdered by her boyfriend, the father of her unborn child, after refusing to have an abortion. Ms. Fernando was lured outside for a supposed Valentine’s Day date, then beaten and left to die in a snow bank.
I told him I didn’t want to go for an abortion. I’d keep the baby and I wouldn’t bother him. I’d take care of it myself…But he didn’t want to know there was a kid out there that was his. He was upset and he wanted me to have an abortion. No way around it. So I was trying to leave.
Unfortunately, as a result of some cultural preferences, abortion coercion can also take place, with tragic results. In recent years, studies and media coverage have brought the world’s attention to gendercide and sex-selection. In certain cultures where boys are the preferred heirs, women are being pressured to abort their female babies.
In what the Economist called “the worldwide war on baby girls”, gendercide is leading to dramatically unnatural sex-ratios in countries like India and China, with serious consequences for those nations. For example, the natural sex-ratio at birth of male per female children is approximately 106 males to every 100 females, but the Chinese Association of Social Sciences revealed that the sex-ratio for the generation born between 2000 and 2004 was 123 males per 100 females. A 2006 report by the Western Standard revealed that in certain immigrant communities in Canada, similar ratios exist.
The Toronto Star covered this issue in October 2009 and found immense pressure placed on young women from certain communities to have baby boys or face coercion to abort their girls.
Baldev Mutta, executive director of Punjab Community Health Services in Ontario’s Peel region was interviewed and he shared that young mothers from India, especially Punjab where studies have shown the prejudice for a male heir is very strong, face intense pressure to have male children. He explained that he had no doubt that female feticide is prevalent among Punjabis in Canada, evidenced by the many women who seek help from the centre because of domestic abuse they suffer on account of not producing male heirs.
He related that one woman who approached him for help was forced by her family to have two abortions because they were girls, and had recently discovered she was pregnant with another female child.