Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to back aid for abortions abroad if he’s serious about making maternal health a “top priority” for Canada, says Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.
Iggy comes out swinging, with the obvious.
UNICEF estimates that some 70,000 women a year die from botched illegal abortions. Who knows how many of the 500,000 women who die of pregnancy-related complications every year -- that's one a minute -- would be living if they had access to therapeutic abortions?
“We don’t want to have women dying because of botched procedures. We don’t want to have women dying in misery,” Ignatieff told reporters today after meetings on Parliament Hill on issues of international development. “We’ve had a pro-choice consensus in this area for a couple of generations and we want to hold it.”
So do most Canadians.
Of course, if Harper gets his majority, it's game over for women's reproductive freedoms.
The Prime Minister announced in the Star and at Davos, Switzerland, last week that the health of mothers and children would be the focus of Canada’s attention during this summer’s G-8 meetings in this country.
Harper has not specifically said what this aid would include, but support for abortion would be a tough sell for him within his own Conservative caucus, where there are pockets of considerable sentiment against abortion.
My friend and colleague Susan Delacourt understates the fact that the overwhelming majority of the caucus is decidedly anti-choice.
The Liberal leader said he has no reason to believe that the Conservatives would withhold foreign aid from projects that assist women in getting abortions, but he pointed out that this was a problem in the United States during the time of former president George W. Bush.
Yes. It was called ''The Gag Rule'' -- one of the first things Bush signed when he entered the Oval Office -- and it caused the defunding of any NGO, health clinic or hospital that counseled women to get abortions for whatever reason.
“In the United States, during the Bush regime, there were substantial limitations on what international agencies could support in terms of women’s health,” Ignatieff said. “We don’t want us to go that way. We want to make sure that women have access to all the contraceptive methods available to control their fertility.”
And so do most most right -- as in the Do The Right Thing -- thinking Canadians.
That said, quite a few Liberal caucus members are also anti-choice.
Unfortunately, unless Ignatieff gets enough votes, it may well be the right-whinging Canadians who get their way.
Interesting, no, how women's issues are suddenly so big?
You know, I am beginning to think that Harper may have made a politically fatal error when he cynically prorogued Parliament last month. Not only has he dropped in the polls, not only has he galvanized many Canadians into paying attention to politics, not only has he set up a situation where media and the opposition can constantly be on the attack without his flacks jumping in to change the channel, not only is he mute on issues such as Rights & Democracy and UNRWA, he is helping Canadians to better understand what he and his team represent.
A backward-thinking bunch if ever there was one.
COUP DE GRACE NOTE: Today, BQ MP Nicole Demers reminded me of this Con job, which shows just how much the Harperites care about borned children
OTTAWA – Federal money earmarked to fight the tragedy of fetal alcohol disorders has been quietly chopped back year after year, says a new report.
"Each year the initiative has received only a portion of the dollars allocated," says an internal evaluation. "It is unclear why this cutback has become the norm."
The Public Health Agency of Canada has been budgeting $3.3 million each year for its fetal alcohol spectrum disorder initiative, but consistently spends only about two-thirds of the cash, says the report.
The evaluation, completed last year, was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.
The disorder, the result of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, causes a broad range of physical, mental and behavioural disabilities.
It's believed to affect 300,000 Canadians, costing about $24,000 annually in social services and health care for each afflicted child, many of whom suffer severe learning disabilities.
Oh, and I posted this last year, but it's worth reposting. It reinforces my argument that women muist be more than walking wombs if the world is to become a better place.