A Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister for the Edmonton-area is drawing criticism, after voting in favour of a motion that could re-open the abortion debate in Canada.

The pro-life motion, made by backbench MP Stephen Woodworth, would mean a committee would be tasked with examining the definition of a human being.

Ambrose was one of ten federal Conservative Cabinet Ministers who voted in favour of the motion – which was defeated 203 to 91.

As a result, Ambrose, who is the Minister for the Status of Women came under fire from critics – including women’s rights groups who are now calling for her resignation.

“It’s her job to protect the interests of women, and she threw women under the bus,” Joyce Arthur with the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada said. “She suggests the status of women is a little below that of a fertilized egg, that is totally unacceptable.

“We’re going to go after her and her resignation.”

A petition asking for her resignation is making the rounds online.

NDP MP Linda Duncan said she was also stunned by the response, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper voted against the motion.

“It would be presumed that Minister Ambrose, who has the portfolio to protect the rights of women, would stand with women to protect the right to choose as our law now dictates,” Duncan said.

Later, Ambrose offered an explanation for her vote on Twitter, and said she had long worried about discrimination against girls through “sex selection abortion”.

“I have repeatedly raised concerns about discrimination of girls by sex selection abortion,” Ambrose said in the tweet.

“No law needed, but we need awareness!”

She was also questioned in the house on Thursday - and fired back, saying her commitment to women has never wavered.

"This is the first question I've received on the Status of Women file this year," Ambrose said.

"I think it's the first question since last year and you know why that is, it's because this government has an incredible track record for standing up for women."

With files from Sonia Sunger