By Patrick B. Craine

OTTAWA, Ontario, March 22, 2010 ( – Canada’s opposition parties are seeking to force the Conservative government into funding abortion as part of their maternal and child health initiative at the G8 summit this June. And now rumors are circulating Parliament corridors indicating that the Prime Minister is ready to throw in the towel.

Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) National Coordinator, Mary Ellen Douglas, told (LSN) that the pro-life movement hopes “that the Prime Minister would urge his Party to reject the divisive motion.” Douglas added, however, that the vote will be beneficial to the political arm of the pro-life movement as it will show clearly where MPs stand on abortion.

“This is one of the most clear abortion votes in Parliament in the last decade and therefore we will be using the votes on this measure to designate where MPs stand on the right to life,” she said.

CLC has announced that a vote in favor of this new “reproductive health” motion, announced by extreme pro-abortion Liberal MP Bob Rae (Toronto Centre) and backed by all three opposition parties, is a vote for abortion. The motion is to be tabled on Tuesday.

According to Rae’s motion, the Conservatives’ maternal health initiative “must include the full range of family planning, sexual and reproductive health options, including contraception.”

The motion adds that the government “should refrain from advancing the failed right-wing ideologies” advanced by President George W. Bush, which, it says, “made humanitarian assistance conditional upon a ‘global gag rule’ that required all non-governmental organizations receiving federal funding to refrain from promoting medically-sound family planning.”

The reference to Bush’s policy makes it clear that the motion is conflating abortion and contraception. President Bush’s “gag rule,” more commonly known as the Mexico City Policy, did not prohibit federal funding of groups advocating “family planning,” but of groups advocating abortion.

The measure is the latest move in a campaign by the opposition parties to promote abortion through the plan. Only days after Harper announced the initiative at the end of January, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff created a national controversy by demanding the government support abortions.

“We want to make sure that women have access to all the contraceptive methods available to control their fertility because we don’t want to have women dying because of botched procedures, we don’t want to have women dying in misery,” Ignatieff told reporters on February 2nd.

The debate heated up again in the last week after Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon claimed the government would not be supporting contraception. After a backlash from opposition MPs, the Prime Minister backed down on contraception, but insisted that the government does “not wish to debate abortion in this place or elsewhere.”

Dr. Margaret Somerville, Director of the Centre for Medicine Ethics and Law at McGill University, accused Rae’s motion of being part of an effort to create confusion around the maternal health debate, noting that, while abortion is the “central issue in this debate,” the motion fails to include the word.

“Confusion is not surprising in light of the language used by pro-choice advocates and their parliamentary allies, indeed, it is probably intentionally generated,” she wrote in an op-ed for The Mark. “Reasons could include to avoid facing the facts of what abortion involves in practice or to persuade others, who might have ethical misgivings about abortion, to join their cause. In any case, they studiously avoid use of the word ‘abortion.'”

She argues that Canada should not be funding abortion and notes in particular that the International Planned Parenthood Federation should not receive Canadian dollars. “Should the lives we try to save with this maternal and child health initiative include unborn babies or, at the very least, should we avoid funding their destruction through abortion?” she asked.

Regarding Ignatieff and the other opposition politicians, she said, “One can only assume that, in order to gain political points, they are willing to risk sabotaging this extraordinarily important humanitarian initiative that would benefit some of the world’s weakest, most in need, most vulnerable and desperate people.”

After Harper announced his initiative, pro-life leaders were concerned that it would involve a push for abortion because the government’s roundtable of experts included Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD), a close associate of the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health (CFSH), which is the Canadian branch of Planned Parenthood.

Katherine McDonald, ACPD’s executive director and a former executive member of CFSH, admitted on CBC’s The Current last Friday that they include abortion as part of “reproductive health.” “The definition of reproductive health would include abortion where it is legal,” said McDonald. “Where [abortion] is legal, the international consensus is that it should be safe and that providers should be trained, and they should be properly equipped.”

McDonald added that if the Conservatives opted not to back pro-abortion groups “it would mirror the gag rules” of President Bush. Such a policy, she said, “would be the most regressive of the G8 countries in terms of donor practices.”

According to Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), “Opposition politicians in Canada seem obsessed with the view that the only help we can provide women for their babies is to prevent or eliminate them.”

“Canadians want real health care for women in the developing world and oppose the use of health care terminology to force abortion and sterilization on those women,” said Mary Ellen Douglas, CLC’s national organizer. “Our resources can make a difference to mothers who are desperate for care for themselves and their babies in countries where even the basic necessities are an unknown luxury.”

CLC urged MPs to vote against Rae’s motion, calling on them to follow the original plan of helping women and children with clean water, nutritional programs, inoculations and good medical care.

They are also calling on Canadians to write Prime Minister Harper to demand that he not give in to the calls for abortion funding.

Contact Information:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
80 Wellington Street
K1A 0A2
Fax: 613-941-6900
E-mail: [email protected]

To contact your MP click here.

See related coverage:

Canadian PM Calls for G8 to Tackle Maternal Mortality – Abortion Push Feared

PM Harper “Caves”: “Not Closing the Door” on Contraception in G8 Maternal Health Push

Experts Disagree with Ignatieff: Abortion Doesn’t Reduce Maternal Mortality

Liberal Party of Canada Demands Abortion Push in Maternal Health Initiative