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Jason Kenney would re-open debate on abortion: pro-life MP

Top Conservative Party leadership contender and current Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney voted with over half his party in favour of a pro-life motion in Parliament on Wednesday, prompting pro-life MP Stephen Woodworth to state that Kenney "would be an advocate" for the rights of unborn fetuses.

"As you have probably heard me say, I always keep private conversations private, but I know enough of Minister Kenney's character, background, and beliefs to know that he, like me, would be an advocate for enshrining in Canadian law the equality and dignity and worth of every human being," Woodworth told The Vancouver Observer. 

The pro-life Motion 312 is a private member's bill calling for the re-examine the legal defintion of a fetus as a human being. Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Kenney, a Roman Catholic, publicly stated his support prior to the vote. 

When asked whether Kenney's vote was motivated by religious beliefs, Woodworth went on the defensive.

"I don't think that the question of respecting the inherent dignity and equality of every human being is something that is limited to any particular religion," he said.

"If I was an atheist, I would be offended at the suggestion."

Kenney's vote was discussed in a National Post column by John Ivison, who said that his defiance of Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the issue was a possible sign of leadership "jockeying" within the Conservative party. 

"That Mr. Kenney defied such clear direction suggests that the race to succeed Mr. Harper has started in earnest," Ivison wrote. 

203 against, 91 for Motion 312

203 MPs voted against the motion, including all 100 New Democrats.

In total, 91 MPs voted in favour of the motion, including 87 Conservative MPs.

Conservatives who voted for the motion included some notable ministers in addition to Kenney: Minister for the Status of Women Rona Ambrose, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Peter Van Loan, Minister for International Cooperation Julian Fantino, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food Gerry Ritz, Minister of National Revenue Gail Shea, Minister for International Trade Ed Fast, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Peter Penashue, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs) Diane Ablonczy and Minister of State for Seniors Alice Wong all voted for the motion.

An online petition is calling for Ambrose to resign as the Minister for the Status of Women, after she voted in favour of Motion 312. 

Four Liberal MPs voted for the motion: John McKay, Lawrence MacAulay, Kevin Lamoureux and Jim Karygiannis.

A total of 14 MPs were not present at the vote, among them Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and Minister Of National Resources Joe Oliver.

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