Health Minister questioned after speaking at pro-life rally

Health Minister questioned after speaking at pro-life rally

Manitoba’s Health Minister was questioned over his stance on abortion Thursday after he spoke at a pro-life rally and referred abortion-related questions to a colleague.

But Minister Kelvin Goertzen said the first choice was made to share his family’s experiences with miscarriage and the second follows clear cabinet mandates.

The NDP questioned Goertzen for speaking at the Life Hike in Steinbach on May 26, where others advocated for laws to limit abortions.

“There are going to be anti-abortion advocates who are going to be very excited the Minister of Health spoke at an anti-choice rally,” said Andrew Swan, the NDP’s health critic.

Swan also questioned why Goertzen routinely refers abortion-related questions to Sustainable Development and Status of Women Minister Rochelle Squires.

“We’ve asked a number of questions about the availability of the abortion pill … and anything that deals with women’s reproductive health, he sits in his place and he gets the Minister for Sustainable Development to get up and answer his questions,” said Swan.

But Goertzen said he attended the Life Hike with his wife to help cope with five miscarriages the couple experienced and to celebrate the birth of their son.

“We were invited to the hike as a way to remember the five children we lost,” said Goertzen.

The minister also provided a statement of his comments at the event, which dealt with mourning related to miscarriage.

“(The hike has) been important in the last number of years for my wife and I, in terms of healing,” said Goertzen.

When asked if he plans to alter access to abortion in Manitoba in any way, the minister stressed such laws fall under federal jurisdiction.

“Those are dealt with federally and I’ll leave them federally,” said Goertzen.

The minister also said abortion and other women’s reproductive health issues were specifically assigned to Squires in her ministerial mandate.

jpursaga@postmedia.com

Twitter: @pursagawpgsun

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