OTTAWA, June 1, 2004 ( – Abortion is on the map as a political issue this election thanks to intense media reaction to Conservative Health Critic Rob Merrifield’s comment in an interview yesterday that women considering abortion should be given the facts about the procedure.  Merrifield explained the concept as: “Counselling that doesn’t have a bent or a bias to it, that lays out all of the factual information on the repercussions of a procedure, the potential for good, the potential for side effects, that sort of thing.”  Immediately, pro-abortion groups jumped on the tame suggestion as an attack on abortion rights.  The Globe and Mail quoted three pro-abortion activists ranting against the move and only one pro-life activist in support.  In a press release today, Jim Hughes, National President of Campaign Life Coalition lauded Merrifield’s proposal and said, “This would be a very positive initiative for women, because, as we know most women are not given full information about abortion before they go through the procedure. After they find out the truth they are burdened for the rest of their lives with what they have done.”  The Conservative Party leadership tried to steer clear of the abortion issue. Conservative Leader Harper said that the party, “will not be sponsoring a referendum on that matter, the matter of how those kinds of services are delivered are within the provincial jurisdiction.”  Asked how he would respond to a member bringing forward legislation to cut funding for abortion Harper deflected the question saying it was a provincial matter. “I would oppose that. I think health-care money should go to the provinces for them to decide how to run a health care system,” he said.  In a press release responding to Stephen Harper’s comment on abortion funding, Mary Ellen Douglas, Ontario President of Campaign Life Coalition said today, “I am happy to see that the Conservatives recognize that abortion funding is a provincial issue. We have been telling our provincial politicians that for years, but they keep insisting that the issue is federal.”

Peter Ryan of Campaign Life Coalition New Brunswick added, “In the province of New Brunswick there is no funding for private clinics and Morgentaler has been fighting that. The case in New Brunswick suggests that provinces MUST fund abortions. I call on the federal politicians to make it clear that, under the Canada health Act, it is absolutely up to the provincial government whether or not to fund abortions.”  An October 2003 Leger poll revealed a majority of Canadians support both informed consent for abortion and cutting public funding for elective abortions.  The poll found that 69% of Canadians favour informed consent legislation on abortion.  On funding it found that 68% said abortions should either be privately funded or only funded in medical emergencies.  Generally on abortion, 63% of Canadians favour legal protection of human life before birth.  In the past Harper has vowed that private member’s bills on moral issues such as abortion would be given a free vote in the House of Commons.

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