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B.C. MLA under fire for saying motherhood begins at conception

Bruce Banman, the MLA for Abbotsford South, is seen in an image from his Facebook page. Bruce Banman, the MLA for Abbotsford South, is seen in an image from his Facebook page.

After a BC Conservative MLA came under fire for saying motherhood begins at conception, the party's leader says he "will not reopen the abortion debate."

John Rustad issued a statement and posted to social media Thursday after the BC NDP called on his party to clarify its stance on the right to choose in light of a statement made by Bruce Banman at the legislature.

"Moms are the embodiment of love, strength and sacrifice. From the moment of conception through the journey of pregnancy and childbirth and throughout the myriad of challenges and triumphs that follow, mothers serve as the nurturing force that sustains life and shapes our future," the Abbotsford Abbotsford South MLA said as part of his remarks ahead of Mother's Day.

B.C. NDP Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity Kelli Paddon posted a video of the statement to social media and it was quickly followed up by a news release from the party caucus.

"At a time when reproductive rights are being ripped away in the United States, it’s extremely concerning to see a B.C. Conservative MLA using anti-choice dog-whistles on the floor of the legislature," Paddon wrote in the statement.

"British Columbians deserve to know John Rustad’s personal position, as well as hear a clear commitment that he will not allow any B.C. Conservative MLAs or candidates to oppose access to a safe and legal abortion or reproductive health.”

Rustad, posting his statement to social media, accused the party of "grasping at straws" as some polling shows a surge of support for the BC Conservatives. The reason he gave for not reopening the debate was that it is not within provincial jurisdiction.

"The 1988 Supreme Court decision is clear. This is not a provincial issue. No politician at the provincial level can challenge that decision," the statement, reiterating that he thinks the ruling party is trying to distract from its record of "failing" the people of B.C.

Premier David Eby hit back almost immediately with a social media post saying: "It’s 2024. Someone who wants to be premier of B.C. should be able to say they’re pro-choice."

Banman has not publicly commented.

The back-and-forth comes after Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau called on the leaders of all parties in B.C. to "affirm their support for reproductive health-care" citing " potential federal encroachments on abortion access."

BC United Leader Kevin Falcon was asked about this Thursday.

"Women have the right to choose. That's been the position of our party for a long time and that position has not changed," he said.

Federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said Thursday that if his party forms government, it will not "legislate on abortion." Top Stories

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