Family planning does not “save lives”

Foreign Minister explains conservative approach to maternal health


PM Stephen Harper probably thought his offer to champion a global initiative to improve maternal and infant health would earn him some brownie points. And it might have—if not for the pesky issue of family planning. The opposition was up in arms yesterday after Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon affirmed that the Canada-led initiative, which will be unveiled at the G8 summit in June, “does not deal in any way, shape or form with family planning.” Cannon’s rationale: “the purpose of this is to be able to save lives.” But many argue that any effort to address women and children’s health must take birth control into account. Katherine McDonald, executive director of Action Canada for Population and Development, explains: “I’m very concerned that [the government is] equating family planning with abortion.” She points out that many childbirth deaths result from complications due to too many pregnancies—or from illegal abortions.

Globe and Mail

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Family planning does not “save lives”

  1. The dismissal of family planning from the Tory agenda is deplorable but not surprising. Again the government is showing that ideology trumps evidence. It mirrors the Tory perspective on climate change, the correctional system, and gun control. One wonders why they have trumpeted their support for higher education and research when they have such disdain for what we learn through those endeavours.

  2. The facts are that 80% or maternal deaths in the developing world occur at the time of birth, and these are preventable by training skilled birth attendants. The SOGC says this can be done for $0.15 per mother saved. When the minister said "The purpose is TO BE ABLE TO save lives" that is what he was speaking about. The Minister did not say "family planning doesn't save lives" that was fabricated by a reporter or pollitician.

    Family planning can delay the risks of dying during pregnancy or childbirth, but at much greater cost. Canadian mothers & their babies have low mortality rates because we have clean water, good nutrition, immunization programs, and skilled birth attendants. Not because those mothers can have sex with less risk of pregnancy.

  3. Somehow this comment keeps being deleted, because it flies against whet the press wants Canadians to believe.

    The Minister was asked if family planning was included, and he said it "does not deal in any way, shape or form with family planning." Full stop. No money for family planning in this program. That's all. He went on to indicate what it did include, and so he said "the purpose of this is TO BE ABLE to save lives."

    The Minister DID NOT SAY "family planning doesn't save lives." Someone made that up. I don't know who. I read it in many places (including Maclean's), but that doesn't make it true.

    What did the Minister mean about being ABLE TO SAVE LIVES? He meant the training of skilled birth attendants who would BE ABLE TO SAVE LIVES of pregnant women from dying at the time of birth.

    When will the press come clean on this?

    • So preventing females – many of them being adolescents, who are undernourished or have disease – from getting pregnant – wouldn't save lives?

  4. Great topic. If family planning without birth control, then I can consider it as not saving lives.

  5. The health department has to take some care on this. The family planning has to implement in populated countries with no delay.

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