Coleman reaffirms stance on abortion laws

Diane Crocker
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Frank Coleman

Frank Coleman said Monday night he won’t use political influence to make changes to the province’s abortion laws if or when he becomes premier of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“I am not going to, in my role, dictate or abuse my position to create a change in the current funding model, or policy, that would have a negative impact on what I believe to be a person’s right to exercise their free will in this province,” Coleman, the lone candidate for the leadership of the province’s Progressive Conservative Party, told The Western Star.

Coleman was responding to a statement issued Monday by Patrick Hanlon, a representative of Pro-Life Newfoundland and Labrador. The group, which advocates for restrictions to abortion access, said it was aware of Colemans regularly participating in the annual Right to Life walk in Corner Brook.

Hanlon said in the statement, however, he did not realize those Colemans included the family of the province’s next premier.

“The pro-life movement is certainly gaining momentum, and when we see an individual such as Frank Coleman stepping forward, we see this as a good thing,” said Hanlon, who added he believes Coleman has an opportunity to take action to restrict women’s access to abortion.

“Ideally, we would like him to completely abolish abortion in Newfoundland and Labrador,” he said, noting Coleman could follow Prince Edward Island’s lead on that front.

“However, being realists, we know that may not be achievable. We know that not every politician is as principled as Frank Coleman is. So we would like to see Frank use his influence to bring about some changes to make a bad situation just a little bit better.”

But Coleman told The Western Star he doesn’t want to exercise or exact control over people’s choices.

“I’m not imposing my view on people. I have a view and I believe in what I believe,” he said. “But I also respect that we live in a democracy and I respect people’s free will.”  

Coleman confirmed last week in an interview with TC Media that he has attended the Right to Life event in Corner Brook every year. He could not attend last Friday’s event due to travel commitments.


‘Emotionally charged issue’

After news broke of his family’s participation in the event, social media debate swirled, with many wondering whether Coleman’s views on abortion would impact his role as premier.

“It is an emotionally charged issue and I recognize that,” said Coleman adding he wasn’t shocked to see people line up “pretty quick” on both sides.

“I wasn’t going to pretend I didn’t have a view.”

Coleman said for him participating in the peaceful walk, which has been going on for some 28 years, is an attempt to quietly express his beliefs. He reiterated what he said in his press release Friday that he has absolute respect for people’s rights and free will.

“I would have expected I would have been afforded the same right to have and express a view on my own,” he said.

Coleman said this experience won’t cause him to shy away from expressing his opinion on other issues in the future.

“I’m not nervous, I’m not afraid,” he said. “I don’t intend to try to imitate some other province that wants to exact control. That is not my way.”

Coleman also said he doesn’t believe his view diminishes his respect for women’s issues.

“The fact that you have a view on one moral issue, that does not render you ... anti-women or you’re some sort of archaic individual.”

But, as Hanlon sees it, Coleman appears to be at odds with himself on the matter.

“We believe he still is intrinsically pro-life, but why he would make such a statement — it is puzzling,” Hanlon said. “We believe that you cannot hold one view privately and another view publicly if you have a good informed conscience.”

To help clear the air, Hanlon said he would like to see all provincial MHAs express their views on abortion.




Frank Coleman’s views on abortion have sparked controversy after he said Friday that he attends a rally each year in Corner Brook opposing abortion.

Coleman issued a statement saying he won’t deny his beliefs, but he does not intend to force his personal views on others.

But Pro-Life NL says it finds Coleman’s comments about not imposing his pro-life views puzzling.

Patrick Hanlon, a spokesman for the group, says a well-formed conscience does not allow for one view privately and another publicly, adding that he hopes Coleman’s conscience will guide him in using the influence he will wield as premier.

Coleman became the sole Progressive Conservative leadership contender last Thursday after his only competitor dropped out of the race.

Premier Tom Marshall replaced Kathy Dunderdale in January when she stepped down from the position, but he has done so only on an interim basis until a leadership convention scheduled for July.



Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Corner Brook

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Recent comments

  • Mudslinger
    April 22, 2014 - 14:16

    If people done the research themselves, they'd be educated. Unfortunately, there's a lot of ignorance in society. As far as Coleman goes in his personal beliefs---- as my mother would say: "The proof will be in the pudding" I'm not here to rake anyone through the coals. Coleman, Hanlon, or anyone else. I do think that the reason this issue seems to resurface so much is because there's a lot of unanswered questions regarding what goes on in the industry. Otherwise, ppl wouldn't bother pay attention to it.

  • Just saying
    April 22, 2014 - 08:10

    My opinion is I do not want any premier representing himself in controversial abortion rights issues and supporting any side of this debate... That's not what a premier sh be concerned with. I would be highly insulted a political premier tried to demonstrate morality on the population based on his theology and their position globally.... Stay out of my house Mr. Coleman!!!! Keep your personal life and opinions to yourself. Premiers sh not be observed demonstrating controversial morality issues in public....

  • Kate
    April 22, 2014 - 06:31

    When a newspaper starts quoting Patrick Hanlon I know that all integrity has been removed. Have you done any research on Mr. Hanlon and who he represents?

  • Frank2Frank
    April 22, 2014 - 00:30

    this isn't an anomaly. There are lots of complacent pro-life supporters in the province. Coleman in all probability will be just as 'active' on the issue as we all know how dead he is on it. As a God fearing Christian I wonder sometimes though if Galatians 1:10 enters Coleman's thoughts anytime?

  • Paul Hunt
    April 21, 2014 - 23:08

    Kudos Frank Coleman A man with beliefs is good. A premier, on the other hand, has to separate his personal religious beliefs from the state. I believe you will make that distinction and become a good premier.

  • Greg
    April 21, 2014 - 15:38

    Separation of church and government, keep your beliefs and opinions to yourself. If you don't agree with abortion, don't have one.

    • Colette Fleming
      April 22, 2014 - 22:18

      Sounds simple not to have an abortion if you don't believe in abortion. Church and government? Science and the medical procedure of ultrasound attest to the humanity of the child in the womb. No one is talking about their rights. even though our country always believed the right to life to be the most basic of human rights. All other rights are meaningless if you do not attain life. We need a law to provide protection for these babies`; we need to spend our tax dollars for necessary health care in NL and not on elective surgery to destroy the child in the womb.

  • Laughable
    April 21, 2014 - 15:16

    Frank truth will set you free. Not like Dwight Ball who mislead the people for three years concerning the Muskrat Falls project. Tell me Frank do you wanted to be in the same boat has Dwight. Now man show leadership. then you'll win the next election, because the people will be on your side.

    • John Tibbits
      April 21, 2014 - 20:24

      Not likely to be elected in next election. Society will not tolerate this position.... Mr. Coleman is a amateur in a ruthless game and he now pays the price for his personal position on abortion issues which more to do with women then men. Mr. Coleman needs to walk a mile in women's shoes rather then give his theological based views...