Conservative Minister Bev Oda Reopens G8 Abortion Debate
By Patrick B. Craine
OTTAWA, Ontario, September 2, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a shocking about-face, pro-abortion activist and Minister of International Cooperation Bev Oda has said that the Canadian government is now open to funding abortion under its G8 maternal health plan. The announcement comes despite a previous vote in Parliament not to fund abortion as part of the Harper government’s $1.1 billion health initiative.
The surprise announcement was made in an interview today with the Ottawa Citizen’s Elizabeth Payne. “As long as it is legal within the country and it’s a legal procedure,” Oda said. “If we were asked to help in that way, we would do that.”
The minister’s comments are at sharp odds with the government’s promises leading into the June G8 meeting. In April, for example, Oda declared that “Canada’s contribution will not include funding of abortions.”
Throughout the months-long debates on the plan, following Harper’s January announcement of the initiative, the government had insisted that they were focusing on helping to “save the lives of mothers and children around the world.” Their preeminent line was that they would not engage in a debate on abortion.
Canada’s pro-life political arm, Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), today called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to sack Oda from her role as minister.
“When you have such an extreme abortion activist as a minister, to try and take a moderate stance is nearly impossible,” said CLC National President Jim Hughes.
“We’re talking about 1.1 billion of hard-earned Canadian dollars. We all want to help the poor, we all want to provide nutrition, but I thought there was a vote in Parliament from the representatives of the people not to fund abortion. I guess Bev Oda thinks this is a dictatorship.”
Don Hutchinson, vice president and general legal counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), said they had “strongly endorsed” the G8 initiative, and would “strongly object to our support resulting in an initiative that provides funding for abortions.” He noted, however, that Oda’s comments do not constitute a formal announcement.
Contacted by LifeSiteNews (LSN), Oda’s office did not take issue with the quotes as rendered in the Citizen, however. At the same time, Oda’s spokesperson Jennifer Fletcher insisted, “Canada has never directly funded abortion services. We have been very clear that abortion will not be included under Canada’s G-8 initiative.”
Oda told the Citizen today that the government continues as before to support Marie Stopes International, one of the world’s largest abortion providers, and is “on the verge of re-funding,” in Payne’s words, the largest provider – the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
The government’s funding to IPPF ran out at the end of December, and IPPF has complained during the intervening months that they had yet to receive a response to their request for a renewal of funding. IPPF’s complaints followed strong criticism of the funding last year in the form of a petition from Conservative MP Brad Trost. Many believed the delay indicated the government had agreed to defund the group.
According to Fletcher, however, the government has not decided on funding for IPPF because the organization has not submitted an application. “IPPF may wish to submit a proposal,” she noted. “The application, as with all others, would be considered under the parameters of our G-8 initiative.”
Hutchinson said the EFC would be “extremely disappointed” if the government resumed funding for IPPF. “Even if the funding is restricted to certain of [IPPF’s] international programs that are not related to abortion, it would be in direct support of the largest abortion provider in the world,” he explained.
While Oda insists the government will only fund abortions where it is legal, the about-face comes at the same time as revelations that they are funding a group performing illegal abortions in Africa.
According to the Globe and Mail, the government is funding an unidentified Western agency for unnamed “health services,” but the group is widely known to provide abortion through its facilities in countries where the practice is illegal.
“Bev Oda worked closely with Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups during the G-8 discussions and made pro-abortion statements at that time,” commented CLC national organizer Mary Ellen Douglas in a press release today. “She eventually conformed to Party policy regarding maternal health at the last moment. It is now very clear that she was merely biding her time.”
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