The Saskatchewan Party leadership candidates have found themselves at the centre of an abortion debate having answered questions from a pro-life group.
Two of those candidates have since walked back comments they made on the questionnaire sent by Right Now, a group dedicated to electing pro-life candidates.
In that questionnaire, Ken Cheveldayoff said abortion should be restricted only to women whose lives are in jeopardy, not victims of sexual assault.
While addressing reporters at the legislature, Cheveldayoff confirmed his pro-life position and clarified his comments.
“Let me be very clear — I believe that any victim of sexual assault has the right to make the choice to have an abortion or not,” Cheveldayoff confirmed.
“I understand there are circumstances where abortion is necessary. I have been clear from the start. When the life of a mother is in jeopardy, we must pause to consider the individual circumstances. ‘In jeopardy’ is reflective of many factors and age levels, not always health-related.”
Candidate Rob Clarke also walked back comments he made regarding indigenous people’s views on abortion, now saying he wasn’t speaking for all indigenous people.
The other publicly pro-life candidate, Scott Moe, also released a statement Thursday.
“My wife and I have made a personal decision to hold a pro-life view. However, as leader of the Saskatchewan Party and Premier of Saskatchewan, I will continue the current government’s position and would not introduce any legislation on abortion,” Moe wrote.
“As leader, I will always be open to responsible caucus discussion on sensitive issues such as abortion and encourage members to speak to their experience as well as representing their constituents.”
In contrast, the three other candidates are pro-choice and responded as such both in the questionnaire and in follow-up statements.
Candidate Gord Wyant stressed in the survey that he is firmly pro-choice, while Alana Koch confirmed her position in a Faceboook post.
“If Premier, this isn’t a matter that I will put up for political discussion. The right to choose was decided by the Supreme Court of Canada three decades ago. I fully support a woman’s right to choose,” Koch wrote.
It was a sentiment echoed by Tina Beaudry-Mellor on Twitter.
“NO. Full stop, NO. Women in this province are worried about jobs, about scaling up businesses, about kids education, interpersonal violence. We have had the conversation on reproductive rights. We are not going back,” Beaudry-Mellor tweeted.