Tuesday April 27, 2010

Canadian Gvmt: No Abortion in G8 Maternal Health Plan

By Patrick B. Craine

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, April 27, 2010 ( – Canada will not fund abortion as part of its ‘signature’ initiative to promote maternal and child health care as president of this June’s G8 summit, International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda announced Monday.

“Canada’s contribution to maternal and child health may involve various interventions, including family planning, which includes the use of contraceptive methods,” said Oda, who heads the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), according to the Toronto Star. “The details remain to be determined; however, Canada’s contribution will not include funding of abortions.”

Gwen Landolt, vice president of REAL Women Canada, praised the Conservative government’s decision, saying that they clearly “realize that you don’t impose the practices of the Western world on the developing world.”

Landolt told on Tuesday that the prime minister had effectively said that his plan’s purpose is to “help poverty stricken countries, and to help them is to help women with clean water and proper medical care and looking after children after they’re born.

“But destroying human life is simply no solution to the problem, because women in the developing world – because of cultural and religious reasons – they like having their children. They want their babies.”

Oda made the announcement in Halifax, where she is meeting this week with the G8 development ministers in preparation for the G8 summit June 25-27 in Huntsville, Ontario.

Oda and other members of the government had initially insisted that abortion was not part of the Conservatives’ plan after the Prime Minister announced it in January. But following loud criticism from the opposition parties, in particular Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, the government began simply reiterating that they did not wish to reopen the debate on abortion.

There was some fear that the government would back down on abortion, especially given that they had already backed down and agreed to include contraception, despite initial statements denying that contraception would be funded. Pressed by reporters about abortion funding at the end of March, Oda had stated, “We are not closing any options . … We are not ruling out any options.”

Oda’s comments Monday confirmed a similar statement made earlier in the day by her parliamentary secretary, Conservative MP Jim Abbott. “We are focused on how to make a positive difference to save the lives of mothers and children in the developing world,” he told the House in response to a question from Bloc Quebecois MP Johanne Deschamps. “Canada’s contribution to maternal and child health may include family planning, however, Canada’s contribution will not include funding abortion.”

NDP leader Jack Layton told Canwest that the government’s decision “puts Canada offside with the consensus in the G8 on the global effort to improve women and children’s health which in a comprehensive program has got to include all of the tools, all of the approaches in a legal context. I think it’s very unfortunate.”

Liberal MP Bob Rae, told reporters, “Canada is now taking an ideological position and, frankly, I think they’ve raised something which could well have been avoided in the effort to create a stronger international consensus.”

But Oda insisted the other G8 members support Canada’s plan. “There is no division on what it includes or not includes,” she said. “Canada’s initiative, that they support, is saving the lives of mothers and children under the age of five, and that does not mean supporting abortions.”

The announcement was also confirmed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesman, Dimitri Soudas. Soudas told reporters Monday that the government’s decision aligned with the House of Commons’ rejection last month of a Liberal motion that called for abortion in the plan, reports the Toronto Star.

The motion, defeated 144-138 on March 23, called for the plan to “include the full range of family planning, sexual and reproductive health options.” While omitting the word ‘abortion’, its intention was clear from its denunciation of President George W. Bush’s Mexico City Policy, which restricted U.S. federal funds from being given to groups promoting or providing abortion overseas. The motion was backed by the opposition parties, but was defeated because 13 Liberal MPs were absent or abstained, and 3 Liberals – Paul Szabo, Dan McTeague, and John McKay – opposed the motion on principle.

Landolt emphasized that the Conservatives’ plan conforms to the “religion and cultures of the developing world,” but accused those promoting abortion in the plan of trying to impose the “elitist imperialism of the Western world.”

“Those who are pushing this culture of death are obsessed with providing death ethics,” explained Mary Ellen Douglas, national organizer of Campaign Life Coalition.

Reacting to the claim that the Conservatives’ approach is “ideological,” Douglas said, “It’s a good ideology. It’s pro-life in the absolute sense of pro-life. It’s an ethical stand, and if the ideology is ethical then that’s a wonderful thing.”

“We’re happy that the Prime Minister has not reneged on his very good ethical statement that he wants to provide health care for pregnant women and their babies,” she emphasized. “This is what’s needed in the Third World, not the offer of the death of those children.”

Contact Information:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

80 Wellington Street


K1A 0A2

Fax: 613-941-6900

E-mail: [email protected]

Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation

House of Commons

Ottawa, ON

K1A 0A6

Phone: (613) 992-2792

Fax: (613) 992-2794

Email: [email protected]

See related coverage:

Head of WHO Backs U.S. Over Canada: Pushes Abortion in ‘Maternal Health’

Clinton Blasted for Pushing Abortion in Canada’s G8 Maternal Health Plan

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


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