Shh! He might hear you -

Shh! He might hear you


Last week, Jim Abbott was quite insistent that “no one” wanted to debate the issue. Today, Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth told aid groups to “shut the f— up.” Glen Pearson, meanwhile, lends a firsthand perspective to the debate we’re not advised to partake in.

This is what makes all the hoopla circling around CIDA’s decision not to fund groups that undertake abortion procedures so maddening.  Maintaining a pro-life decision in Africa often results in the death of expectant mothers.  I have listened to the debates and realize that both sides have their legitimate arguments.  The problem is that Bakhita died because we argued so vociferously that we eventually forgot her.  She perished because we live in a political world in Canada that plays more to our party base and retail politics than it does to a woman dying in her family home after great personal suffering and loss.

There is something remarkably unheroic about this.  A government suddenly decides after 25 years of international practice that it won’t fund a group that could have helped Bakhita.  Yet at the same time, it doesn’t possess the courage to live its morality at home in Canada because to do so could result in an election loss.  All the fervent pro-lifers in the governing party practice their ethics on a poor woman far away in Africa, yet refuse to stake such a claim at home because in the end it never is about Bakhita but about power. Their pro-life stance ultimately led to death.


Shh! He might hear you

  1. Today, Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth told aid groups to “shut the f— up.”

    Where I grew up, when one swore at people in response to an attempt at debate, the cursing individual was told to leave and make their way to the principal's office for a detention or six.

  2. A few questions for Glen:

    1. When did CIDA decide not to fund groups that undertake abortion procedures?

    2. I found Bakhita's tragic story very moving, but isn't it a bit much to blame her death, even rhetorically, on Canadian politics? When did she die? Why wasn't she helped by any of the many aid groups working in Sudan?

  3. You two above are taking this pretty seriously… perhaps she was just floating some new lines for the anthem.

  4. The problem has been the use of pies. We should escalate to egging.

  5. "No one" refers to the CPC who want to stick their head in the sand about the issue. Last month Don Martin of the National Post wrote:

    "Safe abortions are an oxymoron in most of sub-Sahara Africa, even in the few countries which allow them on demand. The World Health Organization estimates only five of every 100 procedures in the region are conducted under what it deems safe conditions. The unsafe list of how terminations are induced include having pregnant women drink turpentine or bleach, impale themsleves crudely, or jump from a roof and land on their feet."

    The PM is showing serious hypoccracy here where we have access to safe abortions, but they shouldn't; all in the name of hanging on to his minority, knowing he has no chance of ever having a majority.

  6. Whether Bakhita's personal death can be laid, even rhetorically as you say, at our feet, the fact remains that incidents like this happen, and will happen more frequently if we prevent funding from getting to groups because they perform abortions.

    For the lack of an abortion, two died instead of one. But this is the "moral" thing to do.

  7. That would explain her inability to respond to reports requests for interviews today. I'm sure somebody from the PMO has muzzled her pretty good.

  8. Senator Nancy ("don't call me Babe" "don't even mention Babe") Ruth.

  9. LynnTO, I would agree but the way I read the TStar article, it would appear that Senator Ruth was in fact trying to be helpful. Her point, however blunt, was that if people agitated too much on this issue and put this PM's back against the wall, he might react by implementing more extensive anti-choice measures like cutting funds for a lot of those NGOs.

    Ruth's warning is a real one. These are the times that we now live in. We have an extremely paranoid and vindictive PMO which does not tolerate dissent.

  10. The Conservatives: icons of democracy.

  11. It's cute to blame the Conservative Party for a woman's death, but, the truth is, if the Liberal Party had supported its own motion , this wouldn't have happened. If Mr. Pearson were to drum the pro-lifers out of his own caucus, he might be in a better position to criticise others for their lack of political courage…how many more women is he going to allow his caucus-mates to condemn to death before he stands up against them?

  12. Is this really my Canada? This is what we've come to? Shut the f**k up on abortion, Israel and whatever else or we'll de-fund you?!?

  13. Yes, a handful of Liberals means the party shares full responsibility for this Conservative government policy.

  14. Glen Pearson and the Liberals aren't the government, and they haven't been for four years.

    You can't blame the opposition for measures that the government undertakes (or doesn't).

  15. I think that is exactly how Harper rolls. Vindictive, mean-minded and determined to impose his extremist religion on the Government of Canada.

  16. She died because she didn't have access to proper medical care. Abortion isn't even legal in Sudan, unless the mother's life is in danger. In this case, the mother's life was clearly in danger, but she died because she didn't have access to a hospital or a physician.

  17. I initially agreed with your explanation but then I thought about it, in a minority government who do you blame? It's not like the opposition doesn't get it's own days, it's not like the opposition didn't try to pass a motion, but the truth is division within the Liberal party are to blame for it not passing. So, yes I think the opposition does have some responsibility for the the measures the gov't undertakes.

  18. Sorry Style, but you can't blame this on the Liberals. Most of them supported their own motion, but most, if not all of the Conservatives did not.

  19. Pretty GW Bushish, don't ya thank?

  20. Bravo Glen Pearson

  21. She died because she did not have access to a safe legal abortion. The Harperite religious fanatics are willing to let women die for exactly that reason.

  22. That's about the size of it. Just ask Steve the Vindictive.

  23. Pearson's story aside, he's bang on in noting that we're exporting a morality that we don't even apply to our own population. Which is a twisted and reprehensible state of affairs.

    Maybe we can somehow tie some asbestos exports to the forthcoming initiative too.

  24. Being more familiar than most with aid in East Africa (which ain't sayin' much) has anyone asked the Catholic charities who build, fund and maintain most of the hospitals there what their policy is on abortion? Most who comment here would likely support the adoption of Sharia law for Muslims in Canada (and Afghanistan) based on honoring their religious heritage. So what about the Catholic's position as a real, private, on the ground aid agency delivering real life saving services to real people who need help? If it would be helpful, perhaps you should ask Paul Martin what his view is, oh, I gues that former "back bencher's" views are private?

  25. "Most who comment here would likely support the adoption of Sharia law for Muslims in Canada"


  26. You think Harper would have allowed one dime to go to any hospital performing safe abortions even if the Liberal motion had passed?

    Right there you have the recipe for the Conservatives' success: make the issue how much the Liberals have failed and now how badly we are serving the country.

  27. That would be the same "Conservative minority" that is high-jacking democracy? Do any of you guys think, or do you just hate?

  28. According to Glen she died while in labour, inside her parent's mud hut, after having been operated on using crude procedures and tools. She lived in war-torn Sudan, a country where abortion is illegal and where medical care of any kind is almost nonexistent.

  29. If Pearson really felt strongly about this policy, he'd switch to a party that supports it. Otherwise, I think we can dismiss his argument as empty partisan posturing. Even his general argument is rubbish – both the Conservatives and the LIberals support the right to abortion, but have little to say about access to abortion. In Canada, no doctor is compelled to perform the procedure, no hospital is required to offer the procedure and no province is required to ensure it's provided. If Mr. Pearson would like to start changing that, I'd certainly support him.

  30. Why should any religion be able to tell the Government of Canada what to do? Keep religion out of it. Why don't you ask women about it?

  31. "I put that @^kZ* on everything!"

  32. Of course they cut funding to KAIRO; was it their speaking out for Palestinians, or their heliping women in the Congol who have been raped and who might need abortions among other help? Or both probably; because the fundamentalists do not value women.

  33. Stop your smears; you are lying about what Pearson says and supports.

  34. No, but hopefully you can point out that Mr. Pearson caucuses with people who support this government policy. The Liberal party started a debate when there was no expectation that it would lead to improved public policy. HIghlighting the issue of abortion funding, then failing to pass a motion calling for Canadian funding of it, more or less ensured the outcome we have now. I'm not persuaded the Conservative party would have taken this decision if the Liberals had approached the issue differently.

  35. No I don't believe it would change harper's position but at least the Libs would have a leg to stand on.

  36. When has Harper or the Conservatives gone on record saying they support the right to abortion?

  37. yes
    what about Richard Colvin, I understand he has a pretty nice post in Washington?

    I like beer and popcorn.

  38. I fear that de-funding is the least of what Harper and his minions are prepared to do if they ever get a majority.

  39. Every time they say they don't want to reopne the abortion debate it means they accept there's a right to abortion.

    These remarks from Nicholson around the Unborn Victims of Crime Act spell it our fairly clearly:
    "Mr. Epp's bill as presently drafted could be interpreted as instilling fetal rights. Let me be clear. Our government will not reopen the debate on abortion.” Instead, the government is drafting its own bill to replace Epp's effort. Nicholson promises the bill will close the debate on fetal rights by focusing exclusively on penalizing criminals who harm pregnant women."

  40. Richard Colvin was highly valued and highly regarded by the Conservatives and promoted to a key senior security role in Washington. Until he said things they didn't want him to say. Then it was open season on him and his credibility.

    They tried to block him from testifying before the MPCC when he was called and went to court to try to prevent him from speaking.

    They slandered and attacked him once he did testify. But the public eye was already too focused on him for them to shuffle him out as they have others.

    As for your other responses, if you believe that then please ask them to be honest about it and bring their ideas forward in an election, instead of pushing policies on the third world that they would never dare have the courage to hint at here.

  41. If that's so, she'd be pretty f—ing delusional about her own chosen party and its leader.

  42. He says he has a problem with a party that support pro-life policies abroad but won't practice that here. First, that's a distortion of the Conservative policy. Second, his own party just did that by defeating its own motion on the matter. If this is so repulsive to him, how can he stand to be in the same caucus as these people? Or is he comfortable being in caucus with them because he knows they want to impose pro-life policies in Canada?

  43. Our sovereign, HRH Queen Elizabeth II, just happens to be the head of the Church of England as well as Queen. In fact, if she became apostate to the Church's doctrine, she would no longer be Queen. We can only hope her idiot son will be disqualified on that basis.

  44. What a meaningless response.

  45. Sure I'll ask but I'm pretty sure I'm already on there watch list as a sh*t disturber after being the spokesperson for CAPP in my local rally. I only mentioned Colvin in order to get a well reasoned response from yourself before the controllbots had an opportunity to belittle your argument.

  46. I suggest you read Blatchford's piece from the weekend (linked at Tim Powers blog today at the G&M). Kind of an "inconvenient" counterbalance to Mr. Colvin's testimony. Seems that he failed to mention it when it would have made a differance, so unless the witnesses who shredded Colvin's version of events are total liars it seems that the whole issue is and always has been "politics" as usual. As an interesting aside i wonder what former PCO pooh bah Kevin Chan has to say? After all he is advising Iggy and worked in a senior position in the PCO at all times under scrutiny. Why don't you ask him?

  47. No, it means they don't want to reopen the debate. We can speculate about various reasons for that stand, but it doesn't exclusively suggest they accept abortion as a right. And the decision to exclude abortion from the forthcoming program of aid would tend to suggest they don't.

    Avoiding the debate might be a case of uncharacteristic altruism on Harper's part – realizing that it would needlessly divide the country. It might also be he realizes the Conservatives will badly lose support if Canadians are forced to align their votes on the basis of abortion rights.

    But it's not possible to clearly deduce a support for abortion rights from a desire to avoid a debate.

  48. so release the unredacted documents, prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Covin's testimony is false and we'll move on. Oh, not ready to do that? Then your argument is empty and based on fiction.

  49. You're assuming this woman would have had an abortion earlier, if available. We can't know that. Without diminishing Pearson's larger point, it's too speculative to simply state that access would have prevented this tragedy. As the account reads, the complications weren't evident until she was in labour. Also, we have no way of knowing if the condition could have been mitigated through other medical interventions – if available, thus allowing the safe survival of both mother and baby.

    I don't see how you can claim that *only* an abortion would have saved her life.

  50. To you? good grief, Chretien wouldn't even release his appointment calendar! What flavor of humble pie should we order for you after this all blows over. Key lime would make your disposition even more sour, so maybe something really sweet and simple, it will be 50% appropriate for you and your condition.

  51. I completely agree that if she had access to a safe abortion earlier in her pregnancy, she wouldn't have died. Unfortunately, she didn't have access to safe medical care of any kind, because of where she lived.

  52. Hey, it has not been me ranting about "our parliamentary traditions", or imploring HRH's representative in Canada to force the PM from office for his "affront to the supremacy of the house" based on organizational chart where the queen sits at the top of both state and faith. You know the queen all in the house, senior bureaucracy and military vow fealty to. Guess the response isn't all that meaningless eh?

  53. What you lack in content you make up for in humour! Best laugh i have had today, thanks!

    No don't release the documents to me, release them to whatever parliamentary body that would be best suited to vet the documents and release what won't endanger Canadian or our allies lives. But so goes the Con mantra, snub democracy and when all else fails say we're not as bad as the liberals. I honestly believe the longer Cons continue to argue that they are not as bad as the Libs, which may be true, the better the chance for a third party to enter the political landscape. Maybe the Pirate Party? I haven't read there platform yet but at this point I'm sick of being lied to by the cons and am not over the libs conning canadians either. Although the NDP haven't had a chance at the federal reigns they have shown they are not above corruption at the provincial level.

  54. At least the Pirates are at war against IP and for freedom, see Jeffery Tucker at for a comprehensive moral argument against IP. That said, in my view, any EU contrarian party that gains any traction just happens to be supporting something the plutocrats find temporarily useful and will be co-opted or exterminated after they serve their function. God help us on EU FTA

  55. I'm also wondering whether there was anything Canada or any other country could have done that would have made a difference in her case. Lots of aid money is pouring into Sudan, from Canada and from many other countries; yet the country continues to be a humanitarian disaster on a mind-boggling scale.

    Outside of the major population centres, very few Sudanese have access to proper medical care, why would we expect access to abortion be any different than access to any other medical service?. Sudan is among the worst of the war-torn third-world hell-holes. In a country ravaged by violence and disease, where hundreds of thousands die needlessly every year, where a simple infection can be a death sentence, it seems simplistic to look at a single death and say: this death could have been prevented by Canada.

  56. EDIT TO ABOVE: Pearson states that complications became evident in the third trimester of pregnancy. My point stands, in that I'm pretty sure that's too late in the game for abortion, and that other medical interventions would have been possible (if available in Sudan – clearly they aren't).

  57. Agreed. We both have a lot of respect for Pearson, but he was pushing things a bit here.

  58. Pearson writes:
    "…Not long after her first birth, she became pregnant again. Bakhita had no family planning options open to her. Complications ensued during her third trimester and by the time she was in labour, she had developed fistula between her bladder and the birth canal…."


    "…unless something could be done to abort the fetus she would perish…"

    In Bakhita's case, she got pregnant again too quickly, she had complications in ther third trimester, so yes problems were evident from her sixth month on. So she might have been saved by birth control first, or else by an abortion.

  59. No, that is not too late for an abortion. Bear in mind that a woman with a fistula may be in labour for several days and that the baby usually dies. Much better to save her life earlier on.

  60. Except they say instilling fetal rights would re-open the abortion debate and they aren't going to do that. Their policy is clearly and consistently to accept there is a right to abortion. Access to, or federal funding for, abortion might be a different story. I would encourage the Liberals to call the Conservatives out on that – but I realise they can't because they have the same policy, just different rhetoric.

  61. Completely incoherent. This ain't Briatin.

  62. It's the UK dear, but I must say you are particularily thick today, even given your usual incapacity to grasp the obvious.

  63. Thanks for the link. It seems to say a C-section is the intervention with obstructed labour,rather than abortion. Further, it suggests that early marriage and genital mutilation are this NGOs focus, rather than abortion access.

    The third-term is late for abortion – last I read, you couldn't get an abortion at this stage in Quebec. Don't know about the rest of Canada.

  64. Lew Rockwell? What next? Stefan Molyneux as a reliable source? A tip of the tinfoil hat to you, good sir.

  65. Yeah, real crazy guys…I'd rather be their servant than your king. it would mean I lived in just world, not canukistan. You have specific issues with Rothbard's Man Economy and State? You find Von Mises analysis in Human Action lacking? You think writers like Gary North and Charley Reese are naive? You think Congressman Paul's "audit the fed bill" misguided in what specifics? If recognizing the bang on observations of the Austrian school economists who predicted the bust and specifically identified the mechanisms which would cause it are wrong please direct me to your detailed ctitique. I wait in keen anticipation of your learned opus.

  66. In order to save a woman's life, you can. Stop focussing on the fetus and look at the woman who will die without help.
    "…For instance, in Quebec, there is currently no doctor who will perform a third-term abortion unless the health of the woman is in great peril or there is a genetic disorder…"

    Yes OF COURSE preventing early marriage and genital mutilation will mean fewer women have fistulas and other childbirth complications that will kill them or leave them crippled IN THE FUTURE. But MEANWHILE RIGHT NOW there are children and women today who are pregnant and who will die if they cannot abort the pregnancy.

  67. Thanks – Quebec actually seems very progressive – actively trying to hire a doctor to perform third-term abortions and sending women to the States in the meantime. That sort of suggests there's no Canadian clinic to send them to.

    It might be helpful to remember that our aid budget isn't infinite and every dollar spent on abortion services means a dollar less to spend preventing early marriage and genital mutilation. We can do a lot of long-term good even without funding abortion.

  68. There's no such thing as natural law. But what's the point of arguing with a 'libertarian' when you're driving a chip wagon on the road to serfdom?

    Rothbard was a psychopath, Von Mises, despite his protestations to the positive. is actually dangerous to freedom. Gary North, (depends which one – who can be sure? – the dangerous Christian reconstructionist or the discrediited Paul-ian crank?) may be on to something. Not likely, though. Ol' grumpy Uncle Charley Reese is by no means naive, but he is a comical curmudgeon. Nozick's insane. So was Ayn Rand. Teenagers should be discouraged from her delusional ramblings. Plus, if they dropped one of her empty but very large tomes on their toes it might hurt.

    David Rosenberg and Nouriel Roubini also called the bust. So did Soros and many, many others who are not supine at the Austrian altar. Nobody listened, even while Goldman's bet on it.

  69. "“We've got five weeks or whatever left until G-8 starts. Shut the f— up on this issue,” Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth told a group of international-development advocates who gathered on Parliament Hill on Monday to sound the alarm about Canada's hard-right stand against abortion in foreign aid.

    If you push it, there will be more backlash,” Ruth said. “This is now a political football."

    So the Conservatives are now warning "shut up or we might take your rights away here in Canada"??? Canadians can't speak up against their own government without facing reprisals????

  70. Based on Glen Pearson's rhetoric, the Government of Canada is responsible for all deaths in the developing world based on decisions not to fund things there…

  71. Why shouldn't I respect Pearson?

  72. Well then, I have a spirited and apparently patriotic refrain for the Senator, and I think I'll deliver it to her office voicemail tomorrow.

  73. Dude, you're adorable. Don't ever change.

  74. I was working on that… had a hard time rhyming "up".

  75. Goldman didn't bet on it, they knew it was a sure thing…they helped engineer it. But, all that aside what is your specific criticism of Von Mises' Praxeology? And other than character assassination what have you offered?

  76. If you speak out against the government on abortion, "there will be a backlash" that might even affect abortion rights here.

    If you speak out against Israel, however mildly, your funding will be cut and/or your board will be restructured.

    If you speak out against the government on their policy on Israel, your funding will be cut and/or your board will be restructured.

    If you speak out against the government, you will be fired from your civil service position (even if it is supposed to be an arms length oversight body, i.e. nuclear, MPCC, Information Commissioner, etc.).

    "Beer and popcorn" seems so innocent and naive and unthreatening by comparison.

  77. How dishonest of you. Only an abortion would have saved her life, but she died because she did not have access to safe abortion procedures, which is exactly what self-righteous Harper refuses to pay for.. Read again what Pearson wrote:

    "…by the time she was in labour, she had developed fistula between her bladder and the birth canal. The baby's head was wedged against the pubic bone, cutting off the blood supply. As her condition worsened, it became obvious that unless something could be done to abort the fetus she would perish. Crude procedures and tools were used in this regard – all to no effect.

    Bakhita died, as did the little life inside her,.."

  78. Maybe it's good advice though? Maybe she's hopeful she, or other Conservatives, can push her party's policy back on track and she feels the advocates are undermining her efforts. If that;s so, she'd be pretty f—ing frustrated with the advocates…

  79. "Most who comment here would likely support the adoption of Sharia law for Muslims in Canada (and Afghanistan) based on honoring their religious heritage."

    Care to back this one up … or backspace over it?

  80. While not doing a thing to help the women who need help right now. Bad trade-off.

    • It's true it's not doing a thing to provide abortions right now, but that doesn't mean doing nothing to help women who need help right now. Those at risk of early marriage, forced marriage, genital mutilation and any number of other dangers would be helped.


  82. We don't have the Church of England here; in Canada the Anglican Church is just another sect. In Canada, the Queen is not the head of any church. We don't care if she gets divorced or marries a Catholic or whatever because the Government of Canada is a secular government. So your maunderings are irrelevent.

  83. Or pass the women onto some voodoo doctors.

  84. Beware the troglodites who digress!
    Back to the topic under discussion.
    I find it hypocritical in the extreme that Harper – who only last year – offered an apology on behalf of Canada to First Nations survivors of Residential school abuse – which started with "beating the Indian out of them" before it got onto all the sexual and physical abuse – is prepared to impose HIS view – and that of his hard core supporters – of what can only be described as yet another imposition of narrow religious morality on some other poor souls – heck – not even within our national borders!
    No doubt he dreams of eventual sainthood surrounded by 72 virgins!

  85. They muzzled her pretty f___ing good, yeah.

  86. About fistulas, which are not uncommon in parts of Africa:

    "… Early marriage invariably leads to early sexual contact and subsequent pregnancy at a time when a young girl is not adequately physically developed to permit the passage of a baby with relative ease. This can lead to a prolonged and obstructed labour and damage leading to the misery of fistula. The same phenomenon also occurs in women whose growth has been stunted as a result of poor nutrition or malnourishment.

    About 15% of fistula cases are caused by the harmful practice of female genital mutilation. …"

    "…Obstetric fistula was eradicated in western countries at the end of the 19th century when caesarean section became widely available. Obstetric fistula continues to plague women throughout the developing world and the key to ending fistula is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Ways to accomplish this are to ensure that there are skilled attendants at birth, and to guarantee a swift surgical intervention if obstructed labour occurs…"

  87. What a crap argument. Why don't you go over to Pearson's blog and ask him questions, instead of making unwarranted assumptions?

  88. tedbets, SH has demonstrated that he hasn't got the nerve to pull any policy stunts about abortion. He's probably calculated a long time ago how many voters he would upset/lose.

    Paul Wells hit the nail on the head on his Dialogue forum today:
    "…elections are won and lost when people who voted for the governing party last time decide they will vote for another party next time. And those people tend to swing when they get the impression that a government used to care about them but cares no longer. The prime minister understands this better than his opponents have, which helps explain why he generally manages to hang on to a modest poll avantage."

    In other words, we pundits care about access to information, the Aghan Detainee issue, suprememcy of parliament, proroguement, etc…. but your average citizen doesn't. Access to safe abortion on the other hand… is grassroots stuff.

  89. I sure hope so, what a disgrace!

  90. Never say never!

  91. You have right to ypur opinions but you are very disrespectful to other peoples opinions, and that is not nice!

  92. Unfortunately, she only said what so many CON marionettes are musing behind the electorate's earshot…

  93. Based on the Harperites rhetoric, the war in Afghanistan will be won or lost by knowing what Peter McKay knew in 2006 and what Harper failed to act on at the same time.
    What a mystical and time-fractured web CONs weave when they practice to deceive…

  94. I don't think Harper is set against any funds going to organizations that provide or promote abortions – which seemed to be the intent of the Bush ban. Haven't they said Canada will fund famility planning and similar efforts? And isn't that the aid policy we had under the Liberals? It's true, the Liberals are trying to push the Conservatives to be more effectively anti-abortion, presumably in the hopes of some electoral advantage. Hopefully, Ignatieff will change tactics and we'll get through the G8 summit without helping the anti-abortion folks push for a Bush-style gag order.

  95. Are you implying Harper's no aid to abortion is semantics meant to keep the social conservatives happy? That would be consistent with Senator Ruth's advice of not talking about this – that's one way to allow the government to be seen by different groups to be doing different things.

    Secrecy (not talking) allows governments to deceive various groups. I am adamantly opposed to such behaviour, because it allows governments to more easily do nasty and even illegal things as well. So I hope the Liberals and others keep on this. I like to have things out in the open and if Harper is helping fund abortions (or not, as the case may be) I think Canadians have a right to know what the actual situation is.

    Don't blame the Liberals for Harper's decisions. Harper can chose to provide aid for safe abortions or he can chose not to. If the Liberals make it more politically costly for him to hide his actual decision, then good for them. Let's get more things out in the open. Way too much secrecy in the Harper government.

  96. Yes. So it is good she said it out loud.

    But, it is puzzling that she seems to have said it without even seeing the irony. She willingly chose to support Harper in the Senate and yet she claims to want to "help" those with differing views by advising them that even more women could die because Harper might retaliate if they speak up. Perhaps self-delusion is part of her job description.

  97. Style, do you know how the ban on abortion funding works? When Bush implemented one, it meant no aid to organizations would provided any counselling or access to abortion, which meant most secular and women-oriented organizations were excluded from funding even if the majority of their activities were not abortion related. Consequently, funding went predominantly to religious organizations, many of which did not provided counselling or access to most contraceptive methods either. Do you know whether Harper will be following a similar tactic or using a different approach?

    It is not so simple to give aid to an organization which provides a full suite of help, advice and medical attention and yet ensure that the money does not help them in the fraction of activities relating to abortion. Some would argue it is impossible, as the aid then frees up other resources to be used for abortion. That is why Bush took the approach he did. If Harper is set against any funds aiding safe abortions, then it would seem he would have to follow Bush's model on how to implement this. Otherwise, it would simply be mostly words. On one hand, only words would be good in saving lives but it is not that appetizing to have such deceit in a democracy. If Harper is being honest about not aiding safe abortions, then likely, many, many women will not get the help they need in contrast to what you say.

  98. Why would you prefer clarity that leads to bad policy over ambiguity that leads to good policy?

    For the reason I stated – secrecy allows governments to do nasty and illegal things more easily. It also allows them to deceive voters.

    You think being open might make it more difficult for Harper to fund abortions. I think being open might help protect womens rights and the right to chose. You seem to think Harper actually wants to support safe abortions and womens rights, but I see evidence to suggest otherwise, although Harper has been careful to try to hide this. Some blogs have lists of the family planning/womens rights organizations that have been eroded under Harper. I say, bring this issue out in the open, let's see where Harper really stands and voters can make their own decisions when the time comes.

    Opposition parties should not help the government hide important policy from Canadians. Sometimes the Conservative government likes to look pro-gay rights and other times they like to look anti-gay. Sometimes they like to look pro-choice, sometimes pro-life on abortion. Sometimes they like to look like they support science, sometimes they like to look like they don't. Sometimes pro-womens rights, sometimes not. Well, good for the Liberals if they want to call them out on any of these issues!

    • In what way has Canada or the world benefited from this? We've lost an ambiguous but good policy and replaced it with a clearer but worse policy. And the Liberals aren't offering a clearer and better policy as a choice. I don't understand why the Conservative party is criticized for pandering to the anti-abortionists who support it, when the Liberals (who rely much less on this support) aren't able to keep their caucus united on pro-choice policies.

  99. Why would you prefer clarity that leads to bad policy over ambiguity that leads to good policy? I understand the need for accountability and transparency, and criminal law even. But in what way has Canada or the world benefited from Ignatieff's stunt? The Liberals have made it more politically costly for Harper to fund abortions. That was the only likely outcome of highlighting this issue. Canadian policy has been to quietly fund abortion access under an ambiguous maternal health/family planning policy. Now, it's on its way to replicating America's abortion ban. The Liberals are responsibile for this dynamic and they have no way of stopping it unless they discipline the anti-abortion zealots in their own caucus.

  100. If clarity leads to bad policy it suggests that those making the policy shouldn't be. As such, it's important we get the bad policy out there so that those who support them can see what results, and then we can get the bad policy-makers out of there, and let good policy makers come in and correct the mistakes.

    • It's not a mistake that's going to be voted out though. This is how the Canadian public approaches abortion – the right to abortion is accepted, the funding makes people squeamish, funding abortion at the expense of other feel-good international assistance is not popular. It's not rocket science that you'd end up with this policy if you open the discussion.

  101. "…The Liberals are responsibile for this dynamic…"

    BS. The Harperites are anti-abortion anti-woman dinosaurs. They are showing their true ugly colours more and more and it is time to kick the scum out.

    • Yes, the latest headline this afternoon is "Harper government axes funding for 11 women's groups" [The Canadian Press].

      Maybe what Senator Ruth meant is that Harper would make sure women STFU one way or another.

      • He probably thinks women are supposed to be submissive to their husbands. He's a member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church which does not allow women to be pastors; of course it opposes abortion, homosexuality, etc.

        • Meh, if memory serves me, every PM from Trudeau to Martin (not sure about Campbell) were Catholic. That church has the very same positions you mention. I don't think you'd accuse of those PMs of thinking women ought to be submissive to their husbands.

          I also really hope we don't go down the road of dragging politicians' relgious affiliations into the mix. Let their policies and positions speak for themselves.

          • Come off it Sean. The previous PMs were not stupid enough to confuse their private religious beliefs with their public roles. Harper is imposing his extremist fundamentalist religion on our government; appointing a creationist as Minister of Science, sucking up to Israel like a good Christian Zionist, removing references to women's equality from government policy, cutting funding to women's groups, 11 in the past two weeks, many more before that, refusing to save women's lives by funding safe legal abortions because women are lesser beings to his paternalistic religious beliefs.

            Harper is out of control. Hopefully the detainee torture scandal and coverup will bring him down soon.

          • I happen to be staunchly pro-choice – to an extent that might make some squirm. But I would never assume that anti-abortion sentiments are exclusively the product of religious fundamentalism. There are moderate folks out there who oppose abortion. There are those who believe a fetus is equally as deserving of protection as a mother. I don't happen to agree, but I'd be careful in assuming that all anti-abortion voices are women-haters.

          • I happen to be staunchly pro-choice – to an extent that might make some squirm. But I would never assume that anti-abortion sentiments are exclusively the product of religious fundamentalism. There are moderate folks out there who oppose abortion. There are those who believe a fetus is equally as deserving of protection as a mother. I don't happen to agree, but I'd be careful in assuming that all anti-abortion voices are women-haters.

          • But Harper is one.

          • Yes, but there is Catholic, and then there is Catholic ;-)

          • lol!

  102. "Maintaining a pro-life decision in Africa often results in the death of expectant mothers. I have listened to the debates and realize that both sides have their legitimate arguments. The problem is that Bakhita died because we argued so vociferously that we eventually forgot her."

    Don't worry Pearson. Money is fungible when it comes to big countries giving money to Africa – Americans will be funding abortions. Plenty of babies will be murdered, you don't have to fret about that Pearson.

    I am curious to know why Pearson and those like him don't wonder what dead baby's name would be or if anyone will remember him/her. Babies are the most vulnerable members of our society but too many liberals don't care about them.

  103. I've yet to see a rational argument for including abortion in the government's maternal health proposal for the G8. Yes, access to safe abortion is important to maternal health and saves lives. But Canada already supports access to safe abortion, family planning and contraception through a myriad of CIDA programs in those countries that allow abortion funding in Africa. Margaret Biggs, head of CIDA, told a parliamentary committee that CIDA has no plans to change any of its programs and has not been ordered to do so by the government. Get that, no change.

    So if we're already supporting access to safe abortion in Africa, why does this agreement require it? According to medical sources familiar with maternal mortality in Africa, abortion is a cause in about 10% of maternal deaths. Shouldn't we focus on the other 90% just as emphatically as we do on abortion?

    I fully support a woman's right to choose, in Canada and Africa. But that doesn't mean that EVERY agreement MUST include abortion funding.

    Luckily, there's an easy way out for the government. It's called the put up or shut up approach..tell the Opposition that they will have the ability to vote on the G8 proposal in a motion of support. If the motion fails, then Canada's committment to the aid funding will end. Then the Opposition can decide whether not funding abortion is more important than not funding everything.

    • The CIDA programs have already been cut. KAIROS was helping women in the Congo who had been raped and it was cut. How about you prove to us that there are any programs in Africa that CIDA is funding right now? Then see if they are run by fundamentalist religious groups who prefer to let women die riather than provide safe, legal abortions?