Ontario’s Health Minister defends taxpayer-funded abortion
TORONTO, December 4, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Ontario's health minister has responded to lobbying by the province's pro-life activists to delist abortion as a covered medical service by defending the status quo.
Campaign Life Coalition, which has led the ‘Defund Abortion’ campaign, estimates that Ontario spends approximately $30-50 million per year on abortion, a figure confirmed by pro-abortion leader Joyce Arthur.
Health Minister Deb Matthews commented on her government’s funding of abortion in a response to Liberal MPP Joe Dickson after he tabled a defund abortion petition at Queen’s Park. A constituent obtained a copy of the government response from Mr. Dickson and sent it to Campaign Life Coalition, which published it Nov. 15th.
Matthews argues that provinces are required to fund abortions if they are deemed medically necessary by doctors.
“The government’s priority is to make healthcare work and to ensure Ontarians receive the care they need, when it is needed,” she wrote.
“For a province to qualify for federal transfer payments for health services, it must comply with all of the criteria established under the Canada Health Act,” she continued. “The Canada Health Act requires provincial governments to insure medically necessary physician and hospital services.”
“Ontario insures medically necessary abortion services in compliance with the Canada Health Act,” she added. “The determination of whether or not a service is medically necessary is based on the treating physician’s assessment of the individual at the time of the service.”
In a piece on Nov. 27th, Faye Sonier, legal counsel at the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, says the Canada Health Act does not require provincial health plans to cover abortion.
The EFC studied the issue last year and released a report called Provincial Decisions: Abortion Funding in Canada.
She says the legal issues are complex, in part because the courts have offered only vague interpretations of what constitutes “medically necessary.” But, she said, it’s clear that provinces, along with their college of physicians, have the authority to deem that abortions do not fall in that category.
“While it may have been a complex task to untangle the legislation and policies relating to abortion funding, our advocacy work going forward need not be,” she writes. “The message is simple: our tax dollars don’t need to fund abortions.”
The notion that abortion is ever medically necessary is highly contested by many health care professionals.
At a conference in Dublin, Ireland in September 2012 an international group of 140 obstetricians and other doctors issued a declaration asserting that abortion is never “medically necessary.”
“As experienced practitioners and researchers in obstetrics and gynaecology, we affirm that direct abortion is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman,” they wrote. The physicians stressed that there is a “fundamental difference between abortion and necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatment results in the loss of life of her unborn child.”
“We confirm that the prohibition of abortion does not affect, in any way, the availability of optimal care to pregnant women,” they added.
Canadian Physicians for Life agrees. In a statement, they insist that abortion “is never medically necessary and should be defunded provincially.”
“The funding of this procedure by governments represents an extreme waste of health care resources,” they write. “These resources could be put too much better use in virtually any sector of the health care system to deliver quality care where it is truly needed.”
Campaign Life Coalition launched their Defund Abortion campaign in 2011 with a rally at Queen’s Park, and then took it nationwide this fall with rallies at four provincial legislatures in October and two more planned for the spring.
The group says that in Ontario they have collected over 25,000 signatures in support of delisting abortion.
Health Minister Deb Matthews
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