The politics of abortion: why the parties are talking about it in the campaign

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OTTAWA — The politically charged issue of abortion has been getting renewed attention ahead of the federal election campaign, even though party leaders are saying they have no plans to reopen the debate.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May raised eyebrows on Monday when she told the CBC she would not whip votes or try to prevent anyone in her caucus from putting forward legislation on the issue, despite personally believing women should have access to safe and legal abortion.

The party later clarified that all candidates running for the Greens are required to be in favour of abortion rights.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was also pushed to clarify his stance last month after it emerged that Alain Rayes, a senior Quebec MP, had been telling candidates in the province that backbenchers wouldn’t be allowed to bring forward any bills or motions on abortion.

Rachel Curran, who served as policy director to Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, says the recent moves to restrict abortion rights in the United States are likely influencing the conversation.

She also says the Liberals are deliberately raising the issue as a way to convince progressive voters who might be disappointed in their record to stick with them in the Oct. 21 vote as a way to prevent the Conservatives from taking power.

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