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Not up to male MPs to take away women's abortion rights: Trudeau

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks about his private members bill during a news conference Wednesday June 11, 2014 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

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Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks about his private members bill during a news conference Wednesday June 11, 2014 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA - Justin Trudeau says he trusts doctors to deal with the practice of gender selective abortion that is thought to be common among some ethnic communities.

But the Liberal leader says the issue doesn't change his position that women, in consultation with their doctors, should have the right to decide for themselves whether to have an abortion.

He says it's not up to primarily male legislators to take that freedom of choice away from women.

Trudeau has been assailed by the Roman Catholic Church and anti-abortion advocates for his announcement last month that anyone who wants to run for the Liberal party in the next election must agree to support women's right to choose abortion in any vote on the issue.

The Ottawa archdiocese has said Trudeau should meet Archbishop Terrence Prendergast to discuss his views on abortion and determine whether, as a practising Catholic, the Liberal leader should continue receiving communion.

Trudeau says his office has told the archdiocese he'd be happy to meet Prendergast but nothing has been set up as yet.

"I look forward to sitting down with any and all faith leaders to talk about issues that are important to them," Trudeau told a news conference Wednesday.

But he made it clear religious leaders have no hope of persuading him to change his position on abortion.

"The Liberal party is unequivocal. We stand up for women's rights."

Trudeau was asked at one point if he's in favour of letting women in some ethnic communities abort female fetuses.

"I don't know that there is anyone in this country that is in favour of abortions," he said.

"But what I am very much in favour of is a woman's right to make that determination on her own, in consultation with the medical community, in consultation with whomever she chooses to consult.

"It is not for a room full of predominantly male legislators to take away those rights from women."

Trudeau noted that the Canadian Medical Association has denounced the practice of gender selective abortions and added: "I trust them to continue to oversee the medical practices that surround it."

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