By Patrick B. Craine

OTTAWA, Ontario, September 3, 2010 ( – A major international abortion provider that is receiving funding from the Canadian International Development Agency has in the past admitted to performing illegal abortions in its facilities.

In a 2007 video recorded by the Population Research Institute, Paul Cornellisson, the South African Program Director for Marie Stopes International, admitted, “We do illegal abortions all over the world.”

“In a way we could help people you know. We are just over the border from Johannesburg and Pretoria.”

Cornellisson suggested his organization could consider opening a centre in Namibia, where abortion is only permitted in certain circumstances, or transporting women from there into South Africa. “There’s various options, you know, once we open a centre there,” he said.

CIDA’s website lists a grant to Marie Stopes Tanzania for $3.95 million ending in 2010. A spokeperson for CIDA confirmed to LSN today that this grant is still operational until the end of the year and that there has not been a proposal for continued funding for the organization in 2011.

According to the Toronto Star in a May report, given the government’s stated stance against funding abortion overseas, CIDA grants to Marie Stopes “are now conditional on the agency avoiding any connection with abortion.”

The Globe and Mail reported Thursday that the government was funding an unidentified Western-based international agency that provides illegal abortions in Africa; the Toronto Sun suggested that this group was likely Marie Stopes.

But Bev Oda, the Minister of International Cooperation and head of CIDA, has been embroiled in controversy after an apparent about-face Thursday on abortion funding overseas. She told the Ottawa Citizen that the government would support abortion infrastructure “as long as it is legal within the country and it’s a legal procedure … if we were asked to help in that way, we would do that.”

These remarks were widely interpreted in the media as an indication that Canada would fund abortion through its G8 maternal health plan, despite repeated promises that abortion would not be included in the initiative.

Oda’s spokesperson Jessica Fletcher claimed today that the Citizen article “misrepresented our Government’s position” on abortion in their G8 maternal health initiative. “We have been very clear that Canada’s G-8 signature initiative on child and maternal health will not include abortion,” she told LifeSiteNews.

The Citizen reporter, Elizabeth Payne, has stood by her column, but also noted that Oda’s comment were not necessarily meant to apply to the G8 funds specifically. Instead, she suggested, Oda may have been saying that the government would be willing to fund abortion overseas in general. “It wasn’t entirely clear to me whether she was talking about G8 money or funding that didn’t come from G8 money,” said Payne.

“I believe she was referring to funding that … is outside of G8 money.”

Payne said that Oda indicated the government supports Planned Parenthood.

In contrast to Oda’s remarks, however, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesman made no distinction between support for abortion through G8 or non-G8 funds in comments to the Toronto Sun on Thursday. “On the issue of abortion, we have been clear,” said Dimitri Soudas. “Parliament has voted on this not to reopen this debate and voted not [to] fund abortion overseas.”

Contact Information:

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

See related coverage:

Conservative Minister Bev Oda Reopens G8 Abortion Debate