By Patrick B. Craine
OTTAWA, Ontario, March 31, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Canadian and U.S. pro-life leaders are denouncing U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after she weighed in Tuesday on the debate over the Canadian government's G8 maternal and child health initiative, insisting plainly that abortion is necessary for maternal health.
"You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health. And reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion," she told reporters when asked about Canada's G8 initiative.
Reacting to Clinton's comments, Mary Ellen Douglas, national organizer for Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), told LifeSiteNews (LSN), “How dare she stick her pro-abortion nose into Canadian politics. Hasn't she done enough damage to the unborn in the U.S.?”
Clinton made the comments at a news conference following a G8 foreign ministers meeting in Gatineau, Quebec. She began her visit in Ottawa on Monday.
"I do not think governments should be involved in making these decisions. It is perfectly legitimate for people to hold their own personal views based on conscience, religion or any other basis," she said. "But I've always believed the government should not intervene in decisions of such intimacy."
Clinton said that maternal health is a “great concern to me and to my government,” noting that the U.S. government is promoting their own global health initiative that promotes access to contraception. “We are also looking for ways to make women’s choices so that they can avoid abortion – more realistic by providing support for them,” she said.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband agreed with Clinton, saying Britain also does not want to exclude abortion. "We think it's very important to have a comprehensive family planning aspect as part of the development strategy," he told CBC.
Conservative MP Brad Trost criticized Clinton for “pok[ing] her nose in areas that are not her business.”
“Canada can make up its own mind on what its policy is on maternal health care and how we define it,” he said. “The Prime Minister has taken the lead in an initiative to help women's health and rather than trying to interfere in Canada's policies by playing up to a domestic American political audience in her own party, she (Clinton) should stick to more fruitful international matters.”
Clinton's remarks have reheated an ongoing debate over abortion and contraception in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's G8 initiative. Two weeks ago the government indicated that the initiative would not include support for contraception or abortion and that it would simply focus on saving lives through basic care such as inoculations, health services, and food and water, but Prime Minister Harper backed down on contraception following pressure from opposition parties. Since then, the government has repeatedly maintained that they have no intention of debating abortion, leaving it unclear whether or not they will support abortion in the plan.
Pressed by reporters last week about abortion funding, Minister of International Cooperation Bev Oda stated, "We are not closing any options . ... We are not ruling out any options.”
Nevertheless, the Canadian Parliament last Tuesday defeated a Liberal motion proposed by MP Bob Rae that demanded the government offer a “full range of reproductive health services” in the Third World initiative. Though backed by the three opposition parties, the motion failed in a vote of 138-144 because 13 Liberals were absent and three – Paul Szabo, Dan McTeague, and John McKay – opposed it.
Trost noted that the motion's defeat can be interpreted as an indication that the Canadian Parliament does not endorse abortion in the plan.
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, who began pushing abortion in the G8 initiative within days of its January announcement, has praised Clinton's 'admirable' comments and jumped on them as a sign that the Conservatives are out of step with other G8 countries.
"Canada took a knock in the last two days and it shouldn't have. The government should have stood up and been clear and understand what the international consensus on that issue is," Ignatieff said, according to Canwest.
"I just think that a G8 country like Canada should get up and be clear. Hillary Clinton was admirably clear about what the international consensus on maternal health is. It's what we've been saying, it's what G8 countries have been saying," he continued. "That's the position Canada should take and Canadians need to notice that's not the position taken by this government."
According to Marie Smith, director of the U.S.-based Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues, “Secretary Clinton is revealing to the world that a pro-abortion ideology at the highest levels of the US government has hijacked the noble goal of reducing maternal deaths by re-defining maternal health to include access to abortion.”
“Governments which value the lives of unborn children must now view with suspicion US efforts to reduce maternal mortality to ensure that access to abortion is not included in the aid package,” she added. “Maternal health is about saving the lives of mothers. Abortion is a violent act which destroys the life of the child and often injures the mother.
Colin Mason of the U.S.-based Population Research Institute called Clinton's comments “disengenuous.” “She says that she doesn't think that governments should intervene in 'intimate decisions' like abortion, and yet she insists that the same should make a hard commitment to 'legal, safe abortion.' This is because she knows that any government that commits to providing abortion as part of healthcare, is affirming abortion as a legitimate clinical service.”
“Mrs. Clinton has repeatedly demonstrated her attachment to abortion-on-demand, and these remarks do nothing but reflect that commitment,” he added.
According to Campaign Life Coalition National President Jim Hughes, “Hillary Clinton is merely trying to force her own pro-abortion agenda onto the world stage as she attempts to influence G-8 leaders and oppose Canada’s position.”
“To suggest that we offer women in developing countries the death of their child rather than safe health care as Prime Minister Harper has suggested is a morally bankrupt position,” he added.
Commenting on NDP leader Jack Layton's remark that the Conservatives have let ideology get in the way of maternal health, CLC's Mary Ellen Douglas said, “It is clear by Hillary’s remark that it is the pro-abortion ideology which is getting in the way of maternal health.”
CLC called on pro-life supporters to contact the Prime Minister's office and urge him to stay the course and do what is best for maternal health.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
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