By Patrick B. Craine

OTTAWA, Ontario, January 27, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Following Prime Minister Stephen Harper's announcement on Wednesday that Canada will use its influence as president of the G8 this year to promote maternal and child healthcare in the developing world, pro-life leaders are expressing concern that the government has sought the counsel of Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD), a pro-abortion associate of Planned Parenthood.

Pro-life leaders are calling on Canadians to contact the Prime Minister and International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda, and ask them to ensure that the government does not cave in to pressure to push abortion and population control as part of the initiative.

Prime Minister Harper wrote yesterday, in an op-ed for the Toronto Star and Montreal's La Presse, that Canada will use its leadership of the G8 to “champion a major initiative to improve the health of women and children in the world's poorest regions.”

He applauded the efforts of Western nations to aid Haiti in the two weeks since its devastating earthquake, but insisted that “it should not take a natural disaster to turn our attention to the less fortunate.”

“The lack of the most basic services can lead to dire consequences, especially for the world's most vulnerable populations,” he wrote, pointing to estimates that 500,000 women die every year during pregnancy and childbirth, as well as 9 million children under the age of five.  “This is simply not acceptable,” he said.

“Far too many lives and unexplored futures have already been lost for want of relatively simple health-care solutions,” he wrote.  The solutions to maternal mortality that Harper mentioned were “clean water, inoculations and better nutrition, as well as the training of health workers to care for women and deliver babies.”  Regarding child mortality, he said the solutions are “similar in nature.”

The cost of these things, he said, “is within the reach of any country in the G8.”

Canada will be working to “mobilize G8 governments and non-governmental organizations as well as private foundations,” he said.  “Setting a global agenda for improving maternal and child health is an ambitious plan. But working with other nations and aid agencies on the ground where the need is greatest makes it an achievable goal.”

Dr. Robert Walley, founder and executive director of MaterCare International (MCI),  said he is excited by the PM's initiative, but also wary.  MCI is a pro-life organization dedicated to providing maternal care in the developing world.  Dr. Walley has just returned from a trip to Haiti, where his organization is setting up a long-term project to help rebuild maternity care in the devastated country.

“I think it's great,” he said about the PM's plan; but he also noted that MCI has been denied Canadian international development (CIDA) funding in the past due to MCI's Catholic stance and its pro-life approach.

International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda held a news conference yesterday with a roundtable of experts that she has recruited to advise her on the best approach to implementing Harper's plan.  As Brian Lilley explains in the Examiner, he asked Oda at the meeting “whether the Harper government was leaning toward the aggressive family planning model or favoured the building of local health clinics.”  Oda told him, he said, that “she was seeking the best advice and not leaning in any direction at this point.”

One of Oda's experts, reports Lilley, was Jennifer Kitts of Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD), a close associate with the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health (CFSH), which is the Canadian branch of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. 

ACPD's executive director Katherine McDonald is a former executive member of CFSH, which was then named the Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada (PPFC).  LSN reported in 1999 that McDonald was still listed as PPFC's legal counsel.  Also, at the time, the organizations were operating out of the same office.

ACPD outlines their plan for tackling maternal mortality in a brochure that they put out along with CFSH, and in which they list IPPF as a contact.

Therein they list the “4 pillars” for beating maternal mortality put out by the Guttmacher Institute (another IPPF organization). One such pillar is “family planning and other reproductive health services.”  As the brochure states, “Included in 'other reproductive health services' are ... treatment of septic or incomplete abortion and the provision of safe abortion services consistent with individual country law.”

ACPD and CFSH are urging their supporters to write to the PM and Minister Oda to ask them to implement a maternal health initiative in the developing world that includes both contraception and abortion.

Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) also applauded the Prime Minister for his commitment to maternal health, but urged him to ensure that the government is working with organizations interested in authentic healthcare, and not those whose agenda it is to depopulate the developing world.

“It is good that the Prime Minister is going to push for health care for mothers in the developing world,” he told LifeSiteNews (LSN).  “The pro-life movement and pro-life physicians have advocated for such services and provided them for many years.”

“We are concerned, however, that groups seeking, under the guise of maternal health, to advocate for abortion and population control have been asked to advise the Government on the matter,” he continued.  “Canadians want real health care for women in the developing world, such as that provided by pro-life organizations like MaterCare International.  Canadians oppose the use of health care terminology to force abortion and sterilization on those women.”

Prime Minister Harper's deputy press secretary Andrew MacDougall told LSN that the Prime Minister will be giving more details about his plans in an address on Thursday at Davos.  When questioned as to whether the plan includes support for abortion or contraception, MacDougall returned to Harper's article, noting that the solutions Harper had specified were clean water, inoculations, and better nutrition.

Campaign Life Coalition is encouraging all pro-life supporters to write and call Prime Minister Harper and International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda to insist on an approach to maternal and child health that respects the sanctity of human life.


Contact Information:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa
K1A 0A2
Fax: 613-941-6900
E-mail: pm@pm.gc.ca

Bev Oda, MP (Durham) and Minister of International Cooperation
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6
Phone: (613) 992-2792
Fax: (613) 992-2794
Email: Oda.B@parl.gc.ca


See Prime Minister Harper's Toronto Star column:

G8 agenda: Focus on human welfare

See Brian Lilley's column:

Reduce infant and maternal deaths, Harper says G8 must act


See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

Canada Marches to International Abortion Drum
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/1999/feb/990203b.html