What we're talking about when we talk about maternal health - Macleans.ca

What we’re talking about when we talk about maternal health


Bev Oda’s office comes perhaps its closest so far to explaining exactly what will and won’t be included in the Prime Minister’s plan to deal with maternal and infant health worldwide.

A spokesman in Ms. Oda’s office said the Prime Minister has set out several specific areas that will be the focus of funding, but that family planning measures were never part of that group. Instead, they include immunization, access to clean water, better nutrition and improved training for health-care workers on the ground who are delivering babies and treating children.

It is instructive here to read Neil Morrison’s exchange with Ms. Oda’s office and the unanswered questions contained therein.


What we’re talking about when we talk about maternal health

  1. This is what happens when you put Reformers in charge of humanitarian aid.

    • Straight to the point and very correct. Mr. Harper has done quite the job of covering up his true nature in the past few years. However, he has started to show his true colours. This issue and the "Rights and Democracy" scandal are only a few of the signs that he does indeed still have "a hidden agenda". Hopefully, Canadians will recognize this and stop the Reform agenda from dominating policy for what is supposed to be a Conservative Party that he is leading, not the Reform Party of Canada. True Conservatives must be very uncomfortable these days with their leader, while the rest of Canadians wonder when they will wake up from this "bad dream".

  2. Clean water and immunization?? I really think men should be given access to these too.

    What's with a program that only provides clean water to women?? Or will they announce a program for water for men next year?

    • That would be Paternalism. Can't have that.

      • That's right. Harper has the male vote locked up.

  3. I notice that birth control is also a no-no these days.

    Definitely religion.

  4. More of what we have come to expect from this dismal gang …. and in other news…..

    OK severely off topic but it looks like we might have to rescue another ex-pat from a foreign jail:

    "In a just world, David Frum would be on trial for his role in severe violations of international law,"
    "Although Canada has also leant us treasures like William Shatner, Dan Akroyd and Paul Schaeffer, for which I'm grateful, the latter never became ensconced in the halls of power or encouraged anyone to fire a shot in anger off the set."


  5. Oda owes Canadians a clear definition of Canada's policy with respect to aid funding supporting (or not supporting) contraception and abortion.

    What a sad state of affairs that a government is allowed to play peek-a-boo like this.

    • What a sad state of affairs that Michael Ignatieff's cunning new advisors suggested that he aggressively reopen the abortion debate in a calculated ploy to rejuvenate the discredited "hidden agenda" meme and to recapture the middle. Not even Ian Davey would have stooped that low.

      • If our government is against contraception, we should know. If the cuts to Planned Parenthood are part of an ideological shift which will extend to other funding decisions, we should know that. We won't learn anything about Harper's agenda if no one pushes on it as Harper has repeatedly demonstrated his preference for lack of openness and transparency.

        I also think the NDP is right to push for debate on the federal funding for a Youth for Christ center. Let's get these things out in the open.

        • If our government is beating its spouses, we also have a right to know. Why aren't journalists and the opposition parties asking that question? Either the government denies beating their spouses, or they'll refuse to deny it. Either way, it's vital to public debate.

          • Not at all clever, Style. You can't just pretend that abortion and contraception aren't already issues in maternal health, and wave away any question about them. Funding decisions are being made and the government should be transparent about the policy that is guiding those decisions.

            If you think there is something wrong with expecting an answer to these kinds of questions from responsible government, you're too far gone for actual "public debate."

          • No, you're being taken in by cheap politics. There's no reason for the question "are you cutting funding for abortion" to follow the announcement "we are going to focus on maternal health". The sensible public debate would be over what interventions are best at promoting maternal health.

          • Actually it's cheap politics to continuously avoid underlying issues in order to stay safe, which is what the Minister responsible is doing. Not a Conservative monopoly to do this for sure, but people who aren't politicains, including reporters shouldn't be distracted by funding for teddy bears announcements.

          • "The sensible public debate would be over what interventions are best at promoting maternal health. "

            That would be an unnecessary debate – there's plenty of good data outlining a specific list of interventions that are critical to improving womens' health worldwide. That list includes access to safe abortion and contraception.

            There is every reason to ask whether Harper will impose a certain set of values on Canada's foreign aid. That's not cheap politics, it's accountability. If Harper's base consisted of Scientologists and he refused to answer the question "will you direct Canadian aid dollars to buy equipment from the Hubbard Institute", would it be cheap politics to demand an answer?

          • The Conservative and Liberal base are very similar on this issue and there's nothing to indicate the current Government is shifting from previous policy. If access to abortion should be a priority for international development, the Liberals (or journalists or others) are free to make that case. But they aren't. They are pretending there's an underlying issue or hidden agenda to roll back abortion rights. It's a bad Liberal habit: if the Conservatives say "women", we say "abortion rights".

          • Actually, there is EVERYTHING to indicate the government is shifting from previous policy. Under Mulroney and Chretien/Martin, abortion and contraception WAS part of the funding mix. And it remains so until now, with Oda and Harper moving to remove it from the development mix.

            So asking why the Harper government is changing that policy is absolutely relevant. They're free to change it, but we're free to ask why.

          • How are they removing it from the development mix? They've been bombarded with non-sequitirs and gave replied that these aren't part of the maternal health initiative – which is supposed to include the G8.

          • Because Canadian governments were actually doing lots of work around maternal development BEFORE Harper decided to make a big push of it a few weeks ago, and what we were doing before DID include abortion and contraception. Now, Harper wants a new, expanded push, and apparently that push will not include things that our previous work in this area did.

            That makes it the opposite of a "non-requiter"

          • Funny, nothing in Ignatieff's statement questioned about the legal definition or the government's stand on abortion in Canada. It's about Harper's new-found interest in poverty and women' and children's health around the globe. Canada has been promoting that in its involvement with the NGOs and its own efforts. To suddenly plant a 'we won't be putting money in safe abortions or contraceptives' asteric to public funding and NOT expect to explain the stand and why is reprehensible in a democracy. But by all means stick to the highlighted lies, er lines in the CON talking notes…

          • I'm not even sure you're responding to my comment, but I do have a couple of questions for you, Where is this "we won't be putting money into safe abortions or contraceptives" asterisk of which you speak? And how much money were previous Liberal governments committing to this goal, and was it stable or increasing? It doesn't seem to be something they highlighted – one commenter offers a $6M/a contribution to Planned Parenthood, which is small beer in an international assistance budget of over $5B.

          • So you don't want to know if they're cutting funding for abortion or not?

          • Show me what Canada spent on this in each of the Chretien/Martin years and I'll decide if there's a reason to ask about it now.

          • Here's a link to all the stats you need: http://google.com

            Personally, I think my elected leaders shouldn't keep a policy secret. I don't care how much money was spent under previous governments, I want to know how the current government is spending my money today.

            You apparently disagree.

          • I agree – that's why I am calling upon our stalwart journalists to ask Harper and his Conservatives about their secret policy of beating their wives and husbands. In the sake of non-partisanship, they should also ask the Liberal leaders and his party when they stopped sexually violating farm animals. Only by engaging in this kind of hard-hitting promulgation of completely fabricated accusations can we hope to advance public debate.

          • Why does that matter? Regardless of whether there was or wasn't funding before, you're not at all interested in the actions of our government when it comes to cutting programs? Even if there was no such program before, they can simply say, "Of course not, there wasn't funding before and so we're not cutting any"

            See, that's the problem with your "Beating your wife" example.. the question is useless as only a moron would answer with a yes or no. (Perhaps why you're leery of the Harper response?) An intelligent person answers with "Don't be an idiot, I didn't before and I'm not now"

          • I'm questioning your actual interest in this issue (and, by extension, Mr. Ignatieff's). If there wasn't such a program before, it seems very odd to suddenly raise concerns about its possible demise.

            And the beating your wife example isn't mine – the point is to make the bastard deny it, because that becomes the headline (and it takes up time and public attention with a discussion about rumours of your opponent's wife-beating and his reluctance to address them fully).

          • Perhaps you haven't noticed.. but we're up to 150 comments here. Perhaps in the days before the internet, when most people wouldn't have been able to see the question/allegation that prompted the denial the "Make the bastard deny it" was a valid strategy.

            These days though.. not denying it, when information is instantly accessible, and when people can hunt down the source, is seen as an ongoing avoidance of the issue, and people will generally make the assumption that avoidance comes because the answer is the worst one.

            To be honest, I have no interest in the issue as it is itself. I'm more interested in the people who are arguing that the government shouldn't have to be transparent and accountable when questions are put to them — no matter what the question is.

          • Funny, I took the 150 comments as confiming the virtues of making the bastard deny it. I'm all in favour of holding the government accountable and expecting it to be transparent, but just because it refuses to be baited on a purely partisan set-up doesn't mean it's lacking either of these virtues. The fact is nobody on this board knows if there was a Canadian policy of funding access to abortion in the past, but many are now clamouring for clarify over the future of this program. That's not a failing of the government's transparency or accountability. That's silly politics. The government reports on its development assistance in many formats – anyone with an interest could have tracked down the Planned Parenthood contributions as the only obviously relevant spending and seen that they were sequestered from abortion support.

          • Oh.. has he denied it somewhere and I missed it?

            No. There are 150 comments on this because the question hasn't been answered at all.

            And when a government fails to answer a question put to them, that's a failure of transparency. Period. You're suggesting the government answer should have been "Go look it up." Okay. That's fair. But that's not what this government answered at all.

      • Oh, for the love of god.

        Yes, how dare Ignatieff demand a clear statement from the government on the new policy they're trumpeting. Why, Ian Davey would never stoop so low.

      • What a sad state of affairs that you are do badly construing what is actually hapenning.

        The current government policy, going back under Liberal and Conservative government, is to include funding for abortion and contraception as part of the development mix. That's the status quo.

        Now, Oda and Harper want to change that status quo, and no longer fund those areas. That's not a hidden agenda, that's a stated agenda. Now, they're free to do so. But we are also free to ask for details, and ask why they're making the policy shift.

        Rather than trying to re-write history and play BS political games why don't you guys just say "yes, we're not funding that stuff anymore because it's wrong and we don't like it?" This transparent gamesmanship is laughable. Have the courage of your convictions, or don't.

        • CIDA has funded the International Planned Parenthood Federation since the 1980's, to the tune of a few million dollars a year (most recently, $6 million per annum). Aside from that, I'm not aware of any longstanding "government policy" to fund abortions in the third world.

          • "…An Interim investigation has found that over the past half decade, the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health has had its federal government grants cut by more than 99 per cent.

            The federation, formerly the Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada and still the Canadian member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, has charitable status, according to the Canada Revenue Agency. The CFSH says on its website that it “promote(s) sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada and abroad.”…"


            The Harper Conservatives are imposing their fundmentalist religious beliefs upon the Government of Canada.

      • how is it low to illuminate and disagree with the government's policy choices CR?

    • I think the prolife versus women's rights issue is essentially bogus, in the sense that the real issue is whether the government is proposing to attach the values of the Conservative Party to this international aid from Canada. Of course, there is a wide range of Canadian values that should be attached to the aid: targeted at the greatest need, be used for the purpose intended, not be used to victimize individuals or bribe them etc.

      I suspect that Ignatieff picked on contraception, access to abortion knowing full well that Harper had not really thought through the difficult aspects of aligning the Conservative core with the correct policy option. In my opinion, the correct policy option is to state that wrt contentious issues Canadian aid will respect the values of the local jurisdiction. If aid is going to an area where a procedure is forbidden, then Canadian aid will not fund an illegal activity. However, if a procedure is allowed, the aid will be used to assure that it is done safely.

      One of the characteristics of the Harper government that can be viewed as either a weakness or strength is that they make all of their decisions as one-offs. This is true on tax policy, research and development, relationships with provinces, treatment of Canadians overseas etc. So Ignatieff is simply pinning Harper down to whether this is a) an aid package or b) the use of aid as a strategic leverage to impose values. It is worth noting that no country in the world has done more for the world than the USA… however since they follow b) far more often than a) they have gotten a lot of grief over it.

      • And it was a good pinning down.

        The way this government has tried to put a progressive face on for the public while implementing a conservative and even radical conservative agenda on the margins out of the public eye should come to light. This isn't hidden agenda stuff; it's talking openly about what they are actually doing and why.

        I suspect Harper thought (1) I need a game changer from prorogation, accountability and democracy issues and take back control of the agenda and (2) this issue will get some fanfare and headlines and then no one will pay attention to any of the details or follow-through so I'm free to do what I want for policy.

        That ain't going to happen now, thanks to Ignatieff.

  6. What does the federal government do to ensure access to safe abortions in Canada? Does it provide funding to train practitioners specifically in this practice? Does it ensure the procedure is available in every province as part of the Canada Health Act?

    More to the point, if the UK has a development policy that explicitly discusses access to abortion, why has no Canadian government ever had such a policy?

  7. What do you do with maternal care like that? (apologies to Raymond Carver)

  8. For over 30 years we have supported a broad program of maternal health that included all the things Bev Oda outlined AND abortion and contraception……are STDs not longer an issue in the third world? or HIV/AIDS? We were in lock step with the approach of the G8 and the UN and in keeping with the various traties and conventions that we have signed over the years……now we are going to the George Bush route, picking and chosing the items that suit Harper's ideology…

    This is a national shame that under Harper we have turned from being a progressive and compassionate country that provides care without judgment…..to this disgrace.

    • For over 30 years we have supported a broad program of maternal health that included all the things Bev Oda outlined AND abortion and contraception

      Please be specific. What program did you have in mind?

  9. Someone has to point out the obvious here: it's good that the Harper government isn't pretending to help mothers by paying doctors to kill unwanted kids. No one benefits from that, except perhaps biological fathers who would prefer not to get stuck with child support payments.

    • You're interrupting the CPC shtick, Gaunilon. They're desperately trying to pretend people like you don't exist.

      • And you're pretending people like him don't vote Liberal.

        • I meant Gaunilon himself, a somewhat extreme type who proudly regards himself as more right-wing than the Nazis (I kid you not). I will give you a dollar if he's ever voted Liberal. The CPC is desperate not be associated with such extremism, as much as Layton tries to avoid being photographed with a hammer & sickle in the background.

          • Okay, not sure why you think the CPC spends a lot of time pretending Gaunilon himself doesn't exist though. I would imagine they had no idea about his existence. And I doubt Ignatieff wants to be photographed with the Gaunilon-type abortion opponents that support the Liberals either.

          • LOL, quite right, the CPC is not an existential threat to poor dear Gaunilon.

            You raise an interesting question, which must either have produced or be going to produce many a poli sci master's thesis: can we quantify how people react positively and negatively to pro-choice and pro-life rhetoric? And, if so, can we empirically verify the received wisdom that no one should touch this issue with a ten-foot pole because anti-pro-choice and anti-pro-life sentiment is so much stronger than either pro-choice or pro-life sentiment?

          • Yes, I think Ignatieff got the nuances of the Liberal position a bit wrong on this one. In Canada, we have a political consensus that women have a right to an abortion, but the Liberals and Conservatives don't believe the federal government should do anything to ensure they have *access* to abortions. Just reading through this wikipedia article, you get a sense of how reluctant provinces are to provide the service, and what sort of gaps there are in access: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_in_Canada

            Ignatieff is championing a more forceful support for abortion overseas than his party has ever demonstrated in Canada.

          • An interesting situation! I agree about the unorthodoxy of Iggy's position. As CR says below, that's some dang peculiar advice he got to put this issue into play, however feebly.

          • On the contrary.

            There has never been a need for a specific abortion access policy because it has always been covered by provincial healthcare and the Canada Health Act. There is also no official government policy on ensuring access to heart by-pass surgery.

            But just try to de-list abortion or heart by-pass surgery from our healthcare system.

            As far as party policy is concerned, the Liberals are and have been since the 1980s officially pro-choice even though a few candidates are not, none of whom play a very prominent role in the party. The NDP the same. The Conservatives only stated policy on this right now is that they won't introduce any abortion laws, though many of their important cabinet ministers and MPs have strong public positions on outlawing abortion and have campaigned for it.

            If you believe that abortion would not be partially criminalized under a Harper majority, then I've got a fixed-election date law to sell you on and a Bill C-391 to tell you about.

          • Ted, this isn't quite right. Several provinces refuse to pay for abortions, only one-third of hospitals offer the procedure, it's completely unavailable in Atlantic communities and Quebec can't get a doctor to perform ate-term abortions. As fr as I can tell, the federal government has done nothing to address these issues specifically. If Ignatieff intends to take a stronger stance now (say adoptong something similar to BC's Access to Abortion Act) he should say so.

          • Hi. I live in Atlantic Canada and have gone through the ordeal of a Significant Other getting an abortion. I agreed with her choice because it was her choice and the procedure was available.

            Screw you and your "Facts".

          • These aren't my "facts", they're compiled on a wikipedia entry for Abortion in Canada and seem to come from reputable sources. You can edit the wikipedia entry if you find it errs, but most likely my comment was poorly worded.

          • Indeed it was.

            It's completely unavailable in New Brunswick, according to your source. It has limited availability in Nova Scotia. In NS, NB, and PEI it states there are some access issues but that it is available in in urban areas of those provinces. There is nothing specifically listed under the "Access by Province" section pertaining to Newfoundland & Labrador.

            NB =/= Atlantic Canada

            NS, NB, PEI & NL constitute Atlantic Canada.

            Not only was your comment poorly worded, but factually incorrect according to your own source. I mean, were you hoping no-one would check your sources?

          • I wrote "it's completely unavailable in Atlantic communities". I didn't mean to say it was completely unavailable in Atlantic Canada but that's an understandable interpretation of what I wrote. The point still stands – previous federal Liberal governments have not exerted themselves to ensure access to abortion across Canada.

          • For the sake of clarity, Mitchell's remark above is a distortion. I view the Nazis as being a more extreme form of Leftism: zero respect for human life, and strict government tyranny over the individual. I think (and hope) that everyone here is not as far gone to that extreme as they were.

            This thread is a case in point regarding the life issue. Killing the "unwanted" was a Nazi goal. It is also a modern leftist goal. The Nazis killed some 7 million victims. Leftism has killed far more, in both its economic policies and more directly through abortion. It's interesting that they even used the same language as is used today: for them, Jews, gypsies, and the disabled were "unpersons". Today we have the Canadian Supreme Court defining the unborn as "human beings" but "not persons". Remarkable.

          • What's even more remarkable is that, viewed through the lens of your absolutism, a distinguished Munich rabbi or a paralysed old grandfather are on the same ethical plane as a first-trimester globule of unthinking, unfeeling flesh. That's not "respect for human life," it's intellectual vanity run amok. In your hands, our lives would be worth no more than a syllogism, which could swing the other way at any moment.

          • I should add two points:
            (1) In Canada there is no law at all restricting abortion, so the baby one day prior to birth can be killed without legal consequence. I think, even though many dispute when the unborn child becomes the moral equivalent of a born child, that everyone here sees late-term unborn children are clearly children….however the Supreme Court has defined them as "not persons" (in the case in question, even a partially-born baby was "not a person")

            It is indisputable that we are defining people as un-persons here. To any student of history this should ring alarm bells.

          • Lessee, your religion condemns non-believers to eternal torment, and you're complaining about dividing people into sheep and goats. Granted, you probably don't believe in your religion (no one does nowadays), but it is indisputable that it defines people as un-righteous. To any student of history that should ring alarm bells.

            As to your point, it seems clear that we are imposing abstract categories on a world that lacks abstraction. Difference between a born baby and itself ten minutes before being born? Obviously zero, except abstractly. Difference between a nearly-born baby and a five-week globule? An exceedingly long and sophisticated process of development, involving infintitely more changes as adult human beings go through in our whole lives or more. And let's not even get into the animal rights thing, a whole other category of life according to our laws and legally almost homogeneous, even though the empirical difference between a puppy and a grizzly bear is stark.

            My point is that if you simply use ethical absolutes in these things, you wind up like the Jains, panicked at the thought of swallowing gnats. That is your cue to accuse me of moral relativism. But there actually is a difference between dividing living human beings into two categories, those with rights and those without, and dividing human beings into two other categories, the born and the unborn, or dividing living beings into two other categories, the human and the animal. Those distinctions are not, in nature, obvious, and we have adopted the second distinction (born vs. unborn) because the first was both characteristic of a violent Bronze Age world and, recently, was found to be apocalyptically incompatible with modern technology.

    • Your angle is a specious one; just as no one is supporting the 'killing of unwanted kids' you are also not helping prevent death and injuries caused through illegal and amateur abortions. But if abortion is a taboo subject, then let's question why contraception is not part of the solution? If you don't want unwanted children, who some are created through incidents of rape in many African countries, perhaps you may support the idea of providing the means to prevent some of the situations above that you so don't want to be involved with?
      By providing some contraceptive support one is at least providing some form of health care to those who want and need it. Unless this is not merely a political question but a religious one — of which I was under the impression that the two are not of the same nor should be.

      • Separation of church and state does not mean that you have to approach policy from specifically left wing perspective on life issues. Nor does it mean your religious beliefs shouldn't inform your policy decisions as an elected public servant. It simply means that the state does not have an official religion, allows the free practice of religion, and doesn't promote one religion at the expense of others.

        Secondly, the opposition to abortion doesn't have to have a religious basis, there are plenty of reasons to loathe abortion based on empiricism.

        • You didn't answer his question about contraception. Why is that?

          • Didn't feel like it?

            I have my own opinions about the effectiveness of handing out contraception as a public health measure when the primary spread of disease is through prostitution, and the idea that we need to ensure that people overseas need to limit their population growth for the good of the planet. I imagine we will fail to agree. Heck, I can't even convince people that coming up with narratives isn't a good way to do historical study.

            I was being non-partisan though, and merely reminding him where the line between religious belief and the secular society is and isn't.

            Oh, and for the person that voted me down, the day I can't vote according to the conscience of my religious beliefs, or am allowed to elect those who act according to theirs, is the day I become a revolutionary. Similar to how you would act if you were in a theocracy I'd imagine.

          • "…the day I can't vote according to the conscience of my religious beliefs…"

            I absolutely 100% agree.

            Now, as soon as Harper tells us what the policy is, we can all vote according to our values and beliefs. For the time being, that's impossible since he won't tell us.

          • You seem to be the only one to agree. Everyone else voted me down.

            Not sure why, seems fairly non-controversial to me.

          • Read it again: I agree with your statement that you should be able to vote your beliefs.

            My POINT was that Harper is making that impossible by keeping his policy a secret.

          • "I have my own opinions about the effectiveness of handing out contraception as a public health measure when the primary spread of disease is through prostitution"

            I'm sorry… What study are you quoting exactly?

            As for you being non-partisan, that's irrelevant, Mr. Tyler. What's relevant to me is that you choose to sidestep the question of contraception. If we can't support means that will ensure that women have access to safe abortion, please explain where you stand on contraception.

            I could read between the lines above but I would prefer to hear your thoughts rather than guess where you are going with this line of thinking.

            And I too have my own opinions about men who wade into matters relating to "maternal health" but don't want to address contraception.

            I'm all ears.

          • Well, my wife and I don't use artificial contraception. We don't have any unplanned children. I don't have any unplanned children with another woman or a previous wife. So you can probably guess what my opinion is on artificial contraception and whether it is necessary. We can just leave it at that.

            I will say though that distribution of artificial contraception wouldn't bother me as much as abortion does. I will also say that I put a lot of the lame for AIDS, Abortion, and the high rates of STI's on progressive sexual ethics, not on contraception itself.

            Oh, and I didn't quote any study. That's why I said it was my opinion. Now I can go into what studies and data inform my opinion, but I doubt if this argument will bear any good fruit that will convince either of us. There is no mutual respect to draw upon. So trust me, it is better to just leave it alone.

          • "Oh, and I didn't quote any study. That's why I said it was my opinion."

            Of course it's your opinion. It certainly wouldn't come from any legitimate study because it is complete nonsense.

            Oh and you are right. It is indeed best not to engage with someone who still uses the words "artificial contraception" on the subject of reproductive health.

            You remind me of a certain someone who said something similar to me and suggested that women just needed to learn to keep their legs closed. What he didn't know was that his wife had performed an abortion and didn't tell him. Good thing we don't live in the dark ages (in Canada at least) anymore and she didn't need to go to some back alley with a hanger to get it done.

            You are absolutely right, Tyler. Let's leave it at that while we can still remain polite to each other.

      • That is your definition, others are allowed to have their own.

    • Obviously, abortion is a hideous practice that should be avoided at all costs. Nevertheless, social reality and sheer compassion dictates that its availability is necessary. A woman's control over her own body is a vital key to the progress of any culture or nation, but it is only a first step. The next step, the crucial one, is shaping society such that the practice of abortion is seldom utilized. Therefore, if Mr. Harper is serious about his new global task, Ignatieff is right to press this issue; it is only the first step, but we need to take it in order to take the next ones.

      • What makes it so "hideous", in your view?

        • Maybe "hideous" is not the perfect word, but I'm trying to convey that I see the practice as undesirable, if at times necessary. Obama fought off accusations of being "pro-abortion" by saying (in his sit-down debate with McCain, as I specifically remember, and probably elsewhere) that both sides of this debate agree that unwanted pregnancy is a problem. I'm merely adopting his view. Much as I dislike the typical pro-life advocate, I have to concede that aborting a fetus is a very, very serious step to take, psychologically and morally.

          However, I'm also of the opinion that, much as we may wish them away, unwanted pregnancies are a fact of life. A woman should have the option of legally aborting an unwanted child because it gives her (back) control over her own body. If Mr. Harper wants seriously to improve the plight of women, making abortions available is the first step; drafting social policy that effectively and drastically reduces the rate of unwanted pregnancy is the second.

          • What about it is "undesirable", then. Or in Obama's words "morally wrenching"?

            Isn't it just a standard medical procedure in which a woman has part of her body removed? What's undesirable or morally serious about that?

          • Look, Mr. "Black-and-White," let's pretend there are some people in this world who feel, however irrationally, that when they are extinguishing the unborn they are stamping out a potential life (we'll call these people "humans with emotions"); even though, according to some philosophers, the idea of "human potential" is pure nonsense, it can still weigh heavily on a person's psyche. Therefore, abortion is a touchy issue.

            As far as it goes, I see abortion as an operation on a part of the woman's body, no more serious than an appendectomy. But I, having "empathy", recognize that there is a human side to this story (which spurns your robot logic). That is why I say, and if you disagree with this specific point please say so, that the issue is not whether abortions should or should not be legal; society should work to make situations in which abortions are necessary or desired a thing of the past.

    • I think its hilarious that you think fathers in third world countries are concerned about "getting stuck with child support payments". Most "fathers" in the countries that would be targetted in these policies are either:

      1) Still in a relationship with the mother of their 5 existing children that they can barely support.


      2) A soldier who raped a villager and has no idea that said unborn child exists.

      "Child support payments" I love it.

      • I think the response to that is that we should do something about 1) or 2).

        I mean, we can disagree on the morality of abortion, but certainly we could spend our aid on combating those problems instead of abortion, and we could both be happy right? I mean, there is a limited amount of money for aid, though we should be spending more.

        Why does the aid have to be on something divisive?

        • So your plan is to eliminate poverty and violence, making abortion unnecessary.

          Seems like a long shot.

          BTW, 65,000-70,000 women die worldwide each year from botched illegal abortions.

          • This number represents 13% of the estimated of 500,000 maternal deaths per year. Unfortunately, many deaths caused by botched abortions happen in third world countries where abortion is illegal, so countries like Canada and Western aid agencies like the IPPF can't do much to help in these situations.

            Fortunately, Canada can do a lot to help the hundreds of thousands of women who die in childbirth every year, and the millions of women who suffer from permanent injuries and disabilities after unsafe deliveries.

      • You're quite possibly right. In that case I will remove the qualifier and just say that absolutely no one benefits from it.

  10. A lot of countries don't allow abortions, you have to take that into consideration. This is not just about Canada.

    • Ah, but the link in this post talks about the refusal to commit to family planning, which is not just about abortion, but about sex education and birth control. Either side of the abortion argument would have a hard time disputing the value of preventing pregancies in the first place. I would also say that any international aid or transformative change program that has Canadian participation or leadership is ENTIRELY about Canada. Anything in which we participate becomes a reflection of our values. Family planning has a firm placeholder in our value system, as evidenced by our incredibly low birth rate. Considering the world challenges posed by over-population, we should definitely asserting this Canadian value. That being said, your logic is intriguing. Uganda is currently considering legislation that would severely curtail the liberties of anyone who is gay; should we follow your lead and "take that into consideration" by ignoring it?

      • I am pro choice and don't believe in ignoring it but it isn't one sided and that's a fact! Still a big taboo in third world countries.

  11. Please omit "at all costs" from the first sentence above, as it is a turn of phrase I unthinkingly employed and didn't mean.

  12. Once again the people in the Liberal backrooms have decided for us the real reason why our gov`t proposes to target aid to the women and children in poor countries. And it appears that the Liberals have decided that the stifling horrendous living conditions in a male-dominated, violent and tribal community is not what the women and children of these countries need help from. Iggy and his boys say that what these poor folks want is just more access to abortion. Good luck to him as he stands next to Jack and Lizzie May and explains that one to us.

    • "Once again the people in the Liberal backrooms have decided for us the real reason why our gov`t proposes to target aid to the women and children in poor countries."

      Well, Stephen Harper or Bev Oda could clear this whole thing up in moments. All we need from them is a clear statement that they are NOT changing Canada's foreign aid policy to accommodate the religious beliefs of their base.

      Let's not forget who's playing peek-a-boo here. The Liberals are right to demand clarity on the policy, the Conservatives are the ones playing games.

    • Once again, this is not just about abortion. Repeat after me: "Family Planning". Including sex education, contreception, and, yes, in some cases, abortion. Assuming that it is about abortion only, one can still make the argument that the lack of access to abortion is one of the reflections of "male dominated, violent and tribal communities", and should be resolved along with all of the other issues. My wife would have never aborted either of our two children, but would fight to the death to preserve it as her choice. Under no circumstances would she have accepted me dictating either of the options to her. She can take that stance because we live in a society that respects womens rights. Think about that angle.

      • Here`s the problem when you inject the abortion debate into an issue when you are the first to mention it. We know you really don`t care about abortion access in Africa. If you cared you would have mentioned it before this proposal was made. You are doing it now because you hope to use these scare tactics to convince women voters that Harper has a hidden agenda. Your motives are quite obvious. So, you brought the subject up; Good luck in explaining your way out of this one. You`re on your own.

        • There's been no reason to mention abortion in the context of foreign aid before because Canada's policy did not restrict aid to avoid providing safe abortion and contraception.

          The question is whether Stephen Harper has *changed* that policy. That's a question he refuses to answer.

          I'm a taxpayer. I want to know how my money will be spent. I'm sorry people get flustered at the mention of abortion, but Stephen Harper could clear this up RIGHT NOW by answering the g*ddam question: "Have you changed Canada's policy to accommodate your beliefs on abortion and contraception?"

          • So while the rest of us choose to ask if our relief funds are targeted towards clean water and proper health care and living conditions for the young mothers of these countries you choose abortion as your priority for Africa. We know your motives. Good luck with them.

          • Sigh. It is not a matter of choosing one over the other, it is a matter of including one along with the other. No one is suggesting that "abortion rocks, clean water sucks", there are those of us who are talking about family planning as being part of a entire package of proper health care at a macro-level. Do try to step into the shoes of someone who is carrying the child of a soldier who raped her. She just might want to have options that go beyond clean drinking water for her while she delivers a child that was forced upon her.

          • Good grief! You actually buy the bit that Harper's plan to focus on women meant things like providing them with clean water? Do you think the Walkerton tragedy was a woman's issue too?

            Our old aid plan focussed on clean water for everyone and health issues surrounding pregnancy largely (although not exclusively) focussed on women. Is the money for women's clean water new money, is it being moved from clean water for everyone or is it being moved from funds that used to fund contraception?

          • Let's see Harper step up to the plate in getting clean water to Canadian women, first. We all know where his 'new-found policy' came from — desperation to change the pro-rogue channel. At the same time, address some of his base which has grown disillusioned over his aggressive anti-populist acts of late.


          • So you are saying that ALL Canadian foriegn aid MUST include funding for safe abortions and contraceptives,
            to do otherwise is a change of policy?

            I can't find a link to Canada funding safe aboritons and contraceptives to Afghanistan.
            But would definitely be interested in read such a policy, if you would kindly link to it.

          • No, I'm saying Canada has never had a policy of restricting aid where it might fund contraception or abortion.

            Now I want to know whether that policy has changed. Basic accountability.

        • "when you inject the abortion debate"… Very confusing wording. By saying "you", are you talking to me, or Michael Ignatieff? The idea that anyone would have had to have specifically advocated abortion prior to Harper setting policy is laughable. No one even knew that this whole discussion would start until two weeks ago, and most pundits would agree this initiative came out of left field. Harper's opponents are simply asking him to give more detail in the announcement and give a simple "up or down" statement on whether abortion and other family planning mechanisms are going to be utilized. If they are not, we should know why, since such things woudl be inconsistent with what we provide to our own citizens.

          • ''..No one even knew that this whole discussion would start until two weeks ago, and most pundits would agree this initiative came out of left field…''

            That is just not true.
            The UN has been working on Millennium Development Goals to reduce the number of deaths related to pregnancy by 75 per cent by 2015.
            And 2010 kicks off the program.

            Perhaps the uninformed media think this came out of left field,
            but that is because they are waaaaay too busy playing 'hide the wafer'.
            And perhaps the LPC were unprepared,
            but that is pretty typical of today's LPC.

          • It is entirely true. The discussion started because the Harper government came out with an ill-defined policy statement about Canada's contribution, and refuses to clearly state what won't be supported. That is what this whole thread was about. It doesn't matter if the UN has been working on this for some time, we only found out exactly how poorly constructed the Canadian contribution would be up until about two weeks ago. That was the unknown equation, and that is why the LPC is now chiming in. You can't comment on thin air.

      • Of course your wife would abort your children if she felt it necessary for whatever reason. She believes it is merely a matter of choice, and a morally neutral act.

        Surely an abortion wouldn't be off the table if you found yourself with an unplanned child in the future?

        • My wife is a little more enlightened than you are asserting. She would NOT abort an unplanned child, as she chooses life for her own moral reasons. She does not believe in forcing that option on other women, however, as she also treasures the rights of women to do with their body as they wish. That is the dividing mark that has no safe landing point from a purely religious perspective.

          • Either it is a morally neutral act, or it isn't. If it is justified for the reasons of freedom, certainly it is justified for less than the gravest of circumstances (saving her life from complications for example).

            Now I'm glad that it isn't her first instinct is to choose life, but if you don't believe it is murder then you can certainly can justify terminating the pregnancy. What if the child tests for Down's Syndrome? What if the child has some other severe disability that will ensure it doesn't survive long outside the womb? What if you would need to give the child up for adoption for financial reasons?

            My own wife is Clintonian in her perspective on abortion (safe, legal and rare) and I know that this will always be a tension in my marriage (along with everything else that goes along with a devout catholic being married to an atheist). I am under no delusions that it might lead to the death of one of our children one day. If not my child, perhaps one of my grandchildren.

          • What part of "She would not abort an unplanned child" Did you not understand? Her first instinct IS to choose life, which is why she wouldn't abort the baby. She already told me that she would carry any baby to term regardless of things such as Down's Syndrome, unless the act of having the baby would result in her own death. Her choice is completely moral, as is her decision to not impose her moraility on others. She would not have an abortion herself, but does not judge those who choose to do so.

            It would be so much easier to debate the philosophy behind your standpoint if your replies were based on something that I actually said. Then again, I'm not the devout Catholic who married a staunch atheist.

          • All I'm saying is that if something is permissible for others, it will be permissible for you and your wife.

          • It took you that many paragraphs to say that?

  13. This isn't puzzling at all. As you pointed out, abortion is practiced in Canada and is not illegal. It isn't explicitly legal either, and that is something that should eventually be clarified through legisltation. Since our country practices it, and generally does so safely, it is perfectly acceptable to ask why any international efforts we make to safeguard the health of women would not include safe abortions. We do not participate on the world stage to perpetuate other countries values, we participate on the world stage to promote our values, for they have contributed to our excellent standard of leaving. Regardless of what other countries think about abortion, they happen in every country, and cannot be prevented or discouraged through criminal or policy means. Our international efforts don't have to promote wanton abortions, but they should work to prevent the insanity of unsafe abortions peformed in the absence of trained medical staff.

    • I disagree that abortions can't be prevented or discouraged through criminal or policy means. If that were true, the abortion rate would have remained steady since it was legalized, instead of steadily climbing until just recently, when the pro-life movement found its feet.

      • Got any data to support that? I'm having a bugger of a time finding data on backalley abortion rates prior to decriminalization.

        • I'm not talking about prior to decriminalization. I'm talking about since.

          • You totally didn't get what TJCook was saying. Look up "irony".

          • How could post-decriminalization statistics alone demonstrate the effect of criminal or policy decisions on abortion rates?

            Wouldn't the obvious measure be abortion rates pre- and post-decriminalization?

            And then, wouldn't simple ethics require that you address post-abortion maternal deaths pre- and post-decriminalization?

          • Largely, that making it legal encouraged it as an option.

            Sure but the data is suspect.

            Well, I know that Poland had a 75% decrease in maternal death rate after abortion was recriminalized in that country. I'm not going to pretend though that it has no correlation between that and the fall of communism.

            As for back alley abortions, yeah its a problem. But there weren't 100,000 lives lost, or 100,000 back alley abortions before decriminalization. If abortions were legal for reasons of physical health (such as an etopic pregnancy or uterine cancer) rather than convenience or eugenics, I would certainly be on your side of the fence.

            And yes, if the Liberals committed to reducing abortion numbers, had a plan to deal with the problem, and was willing to put aside the idea that abortion is a morally neutral act then I could deal with it being legal and voting for them. I think it would be a delusion, because Quebec has the highest abortion rate and the most amount of state sponsored child support. I know damn well that progressive sexual culture is to blame for the abortion rate but I can certainly get behind any attempt to hold men responsible for their children, streamlining the adoption process and showing people that and make the burden of having a child lighter. Right now though, I can't trust any political party in Canada to do anything.

            Why should they? They've decided abortion is a solution rather than a problem that needs solving.

          • "Largely, that making it legal encouraged it as an option."

            Right, but in order to demonstrate that, you need statistics before and after decriminalization. I think you're drawing conclusions in the absence of such data.

            "I know damn well that progressive sexual culture is to blame for the abortion rate…"

            You sure "know" a lot of things without any data. Interesting, the pro-choice movement in Canada and the US have reached out to the pro-life side many times to work together on practical plans to reduce the abortion rate through better education, access to contraception, better pre- and post-natal support, etc. They have continually been rebuffed by pro-lifers who have a single focus: making abortion illegal.

            You need to understand that a person can be pro-choice without being pro-abortion.

            None of this is relevant to the debate at hand: our political leaders won't tell us whether they've made a policy change that affects how our money is spent. That's unacceptable, regardless of your personal feelings on abortion.

          • So you think there were 100,000 illegal abortions, even though it is a higher rate than the first years after abortion was legalized? Okay.

            As for the reaching out, that's a lie. We don't want to combine our funds with pro-choice NGO's, because we can't participate willingly in abortions. It doesn't stop pro-abortion groups from sneaking money out of Catholic charities mind you.

            We are the ones who do the majority of post-natal support, post-abortion counselling for women who regret their abortions, and we certainly educate people on options for family planning. It may not be done the way you want it to be done, but the fact remains that we do it.

            Pro-abortion groups focus on two things, contraception and abortion as their primary goals, and lobbying for it. Lobbying is a sideline for us.

            In the case of where people could be educated on their options before they have an abortion, whether on how to give your child up for adoption in the classroom, that abstinence is an option (and I'm not even talking about making it abstinence only).

            Informing a person of their options when they visit an abortion clinic has also been promoted by the pro-abortion lobby. Providing literature on alternative options to abortion in the clinic before the abortion, or providing an ultrasound so they know what is they are disposing of have both been compromises that have been fought tooth and nail.

            So don't tell me that pro-"choice" groups or legislators have reached across the aisle when they've done more than their fare share of frustrating that choice to be informed.

            Of course they are pro-abortion if you want to encourage it people to have them. Don't pretend otherwise, because you aren't fooling anyone.

          • I guarantee that their is no "pro-abortion" movement. There is "pro-choice", which asserts that a woman has a right to decide what happens to her own body. Few pro-choice people like abortions. Hell, abortion doctors hate abortions. Most people who have an abortion do not do so lightly. The term "pro-abortion" is a deliberate over-simplication of the pro-choice position.

          • That's interesting. What's not to like about abortion? Isn't it just the removal of a clump of cells? Sort of like an appendectomy, only with a blissful element of freedom and progressiveness to it.

            Seriously, most people like to say they personally don't like abortion, or find it repulsive, or somehow difficult morally. Why? Either it's killing a child, or it's just a routine medical procedure on a part of a woman's body. If the latter, there's nothing repulsive about it. If the former, there's nothing justifiable about it.

            You can't have it both ways.

          • But, Gaunilon, you are a clump of cells, yet you are protected by law. You're having it both ways as you type.

          • Wow. And the ignorance comes out in full force.

            I'm not going to waste my time addressing this mess, with the following exception: "Of course they are pro-abortion if you want to encourage it people to have them. Don't pretend otherwise, because you aren't fooling anyone."

            I say again: it is possible to 1) think abortion is wrong, or at least undesirable, while 2) feel that it is unacceptable to force that belief on others. That would be a "pro-choice" position, and I've seen data (not going to bother digging it up since you don't "believe" in data) suggesting that's the default pro-choice position in Canada.

            If anybody at all is actually "pro-abortion" (ie actually believes that abortion itself is good and desirable), I've never met them, heard of them or read anything they've written. Perhaps you could point them out to me.

            You need to meet some new people, get a fresh look at the world. Read something from a new source. Find some data.

          • "…And yes, if the Liberals committed to reducing abortion numbers, had a plan to deal with the problem, and was willing to put aside the idea that abortion is a morally neutral act then I could deal with it being legal and voting for them…"

            You mean like a progressive, open policy promoting contraceptives?
            I don't see how the CONs can get away with saying promoting women's health around the world won't include improving access to legal abortions, and also be against contraceptive promotion.
            The two work hand in hand and also work to relieve the other.

          • You don't get it. Post-decriminalization, backalley abortions would have simply moved from the unknown column into the known column. The actual number of abortions likely stayed the same, they just finally got reported because they were being performed by doctors. Just like domestic abuse; someone I knew once openly longed for the 1950s era, because the domestic violence stats were so much lower. She argued that they had increased due to a drop in the rate of chuch-going and overt morality – she didn't understand that people simply started reporting them instead of sweeping them under the mat.

          • Yeah, I understand that post-decriminalization, back alley abortions would have moved to known column. However, the rate of abortion increased over the next decades, and only dipped slightly in the last few years.

            In other words, as the sexual revolution saturated society and the pro-life movement became better at explaining its position.

          • Again: you make all these claims and have no data to back them up.

          • Well, call it a hypothesis and we'll do a study.

            Of course, it will be a cold day in hell before someone is allowed to look.

          • Or maybe the sexual revolution resulted in more sex education, which resulted in more contraception, which then prevented more unwanted pregancies which then lowered the number of abortions? The pro-life movement can repackage its position all it wants. It does not influence people outside its existing framework of supporters.

  14. But you're assuming that Harper has done nothing, and that Ignatieff has created this issue out of whole cloth.

    There's good reason to wonder whether Harper is changing Canada's policies to accommodate the religious beliefs of his base. The refusal to clarify the policy and the over-the-top mockery ('this isn't about gay marriage…') are serious red flags.

    Ignatieff can either remain silent or he can demand that the government clarify a policy position that they're refusing to state. I would argue that silence (in hopes of courting Harper's base) is the wrong approach – as a taxpayer I am entitled to clarity on how my money is spent.

    By the way, is it really so hard to see this as a bit of a bank shot on Harper's part? By walking right up to the edge of the abortion issue and remaining silent, he's forced Ignatieff to either remain silent or to ask a question about abortion. If it was deliberate, it's not a bad political move on Harper's part, especially given the gullibility of Canadians who are now wailing about *Ignatieff* opening an abortion discussion.

    • I don't see it. Largely the issue would have never come up if Ignatieff hadn't drawn attention to it. If he felt deeply about it, he could just do what the Democrats in the States do which is to restore oversees funding while they are in power. If Ignatieff is trying to make political points, where is going to get them from who aren't in his party already? If Harper is trying to score political points, why isn't he telling anybody about it? Harper himself is pro-choice, so why would he do it as a matter of principle? If anyone has a pro-life agenda, it would have to be the minister Bev Oda wouldn't it?

      Now it smells to me like Ignatieff was merely making political points, but if you are correct and he is doing it from a matter of conviction then all the more power to him for putting principle in front of political calculation. The fact remains that he probably won't get any votes from those who are pro-life due to this rhetoric.

      • "Harper himself is pro-choice"

        Is he? I'm shocked at that. How do you know? He would certainly be a rare pro-choice evangelical Christian.

        Deliberately or otherwise, Harper has embarked on a big move into womens' health worldwide. This is inextricably linked with abortion rights, and Harper refuses to clarify his policy on abortion rights and Canada's foreign aid. So he:

        a) Blundered into it unaware that this would trigger a debate on abortion (seems utterly unlikely to me)

        b) Started this policy work while hoping he could avoid the issue (also seems unlikely)

        c) Started his policy work, knowing that somebody would have to ask the abortion question if he said nothing. And obviously, asking the question about Harper's policy is enough to have people screaming at Ignatieff for bringing up abortion.

        I don't think this is a win for Ignatieff, nobody wants to touch the Third Rail of Canadian politics. But silence would have been nearly as bad for him. I don't think he's speaking up on principle, I think he's choosing the better of the lose-lose scenarios.

        It would not have been difficult for Harper to see this as lose-lose for Ignatieff, and it's just the kind of wedge politics Harper plays.

        • Evangelical Christians are not a monolith (in fact they are innumerable independent churches), nor are they all socially conservative. Plus, there is no reason to think that he necessarily agrees with his pastor(s) on this issue. Certainly there is no doubt among us social conservatives where he stands.

          Also, I don't think Ignatieff would have paid any price if he had stayed silent. He could always have acted when it became an issue within his own party, but I doubt that anybody would have noticed among the rank and file if he and his staffers hadn't brought it up.

          • SO Harper is pro-choice?

            I call bullsh*t. Prove it.

          • Was Chretien or Martin pro=choice? Isn't that unusual for Catholics? What about Ignatieff? Do his policy views follow his religious practice?

          • The difference is the Liberal leaders have stated that they support access to safe and legal abortions. Dion and Ignatieff have also stated that. Harper refused to answer questions on this when asked, and finally promised that if he became Prime Minister, he would not table abortion legislation in the first term of his government. His first term is long over, so it is a reasonable thing to ask, particularly when there are some indications of shift in funding within Canada and now external to Canada, having to do with contaception and abortion.

            As to his personal views, Harper has only stated that he is "somewhere in the middle" on abortion, which I think is supposed to mean whatever you want it to mean.

          • So you can't back up your claim.

  15. This is exactly why Liberals can't get things done, gotta inject issues not ALL can agree on.
    Liberals want to doom the program before it can get off the ground. (God forbid Harper is successful, eh.)
    That's why Harper got a softwood lumber deal, and years of Liberal rule did not, Harper goes for the attainable.

    ALL the donor countries have to be on board.
    Therefore, the goals must be something ALL donor countries can agree on right from the start.
    The funding focus contains NO religion and NO ideology.

    -access to clean water,
    -better nutrition ,
    -and improved training for health-care workers on the ground who are delivering babies and treating children.

    There is a total absence of religion in the above.
    These are goals EVERY donor country CAN agree on.

    • Family planning doesn't have to be about religion. Those who have religious opposition to it can choose not to utilize it. Those who wish to have a choice, should have a choice.

      • I agree. But that is not a stand EVERY country, donor and recipient, will agree on.
        Every donor/recipient country WILL agree on the Canadian focus of the funding.

        If the UN Millineum 2015 goal is to be met, this program has to get up and running now.
        Tossing in contentious issues that create unresolvable debate amoungst countries, will only slow or stop the program.

        • Then why not say to each country "we're giving you $x for maternal development that you can dedicate to your choices amongst an envelop of areas: water, medicine, contraceptives, abortion services, etc." Let the countries choose how they want to tackle the problems, within certain guidelines. Let's just not exclude certain ones based on our own religious or moral objections then they might otherwise be interested in.

          • Because Jeff, there are countries that will NOT fund abortion, and countries that will NOT provide legal abortions….so why even go there? Why put it on the table and create failure?

            Also, with just writing a cheque
            there is no focus, not goals, no measuring results and no accountability….kinda line the Kelowna Accord.

          • Why? Because it is estimated that 1/3 of the deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth could be avoided if women had access to contraception. Furthermore, it is estimated that almost 20 million abortions are preformed each year in developing countries under unsafe conditions, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths and millions of significant health problems.

            If you care about saving the lives of women, you don't ignore a major cause of death. And no one has answered the question of what countries giving aid, besides Canada, would be opposed to access to condoms and birth control pills.

            This seems more like Harper trying to steer other countries than Harper giving up his own commitment to adequate access to contraception because of pressure from other countries. But, in the first instance, we are talking about Canadian aid which has previously gone toward things like contraception and legal abortion and the fact that this appears likely to be a shift in policy for Canadian aid.

            Harper could put a stop to all this discussion by announcing that his government will continue to provide funding for family planning, including contraception and legal abortion, as Canada has done in the past. Want to take bets on the chances of that happening?

          • Harper has the UN to deal with, finding a concensus amongst many other countries.
            This is an INTERNATIONAL initiative and is not dictated from the opposition benches in Canada.

            So I highly doubt Harper gives a rat's butt what Iffy thinks.
            Clean water, vaccinations, nutrition, live births and post natal care.
            It's about saving babies with providing basic needs.

          • Much of our family planning funds already go through the UN. What is the problem?

          • The UN FPA clearly spells out their position on contraception (it is key for women's rights) and abortion (legality is determined at a local level and if it is legal, it should be safe). There is already international agreement on this. What Harper may have trouble gettting international agreement on is the idea that one should invest lots of money to save women's life and health but leave access to contraception out of the approaches taken. Obama recently had to reverse all the restrictions Bush put in place. Why is he going to want to go along with Harper putting in the same restrictions.

          • So, because some countries won't fund abortion, then no countries, even those that want it, can have it? That doesn't quite follow. I prefer abortions for some, miniature American flags for others.

            I don't see what's wrong with what I outlined. We devote $x to country A, they decide amongst several target areas how they want to spend it. If they want to spend some on contraception, fine. If they don't, that's fine to. It's their choice.

            That's not lacking focus at all. That's balancing focus with respecting the priorities of the local country and government, and recognizing that what's right for country A might not be right for county B. (Little ironic I'm the one arguing against stronger government interventionism, kinda sorta)

    • Indeed, Harper goes for whatever he can get.. and says whatever is necessary to get there.

      It's just too bad that what he says he'll do has such an opposite relation to what he actually does.

      • Integrity?
        A GOOD negotiator goes for the acheivable,
        not toss a bomb into the negotiations.

        That is why Harper will get this done,
        by starting with a focus ALL countries, donor and recipient, will agree on.

        • Yes. Integrity. Like telling the Canadian people on softwood lumber, that as Prime MInister, his actions would be to demand that the US comply with the multiple NAFTA rulings, and that he wouldn't go back to the bargaining table.. as he put it himself "You don't negotiate when you've won".

          Turns out, integrity wasn't an issue there.

          He goes for what he can get.. no matter who he has to lie to.

  16. You keep twisting "logic" like that, you're going to turn into a pretzel.

    So let's get this straight: you're comfortable with your politicians keeping their policies secret? You don't want to know how your money is being spent?

  17. Which countries giving aid (besides Canada) would be opposed to access to contraception? Obama has already reversed Bush's policy on that. Most countries (besides Canada) are concerned about the large number of deaths and serious health issues because of lack of access to contraception.

    • Oh, Catherine, it's so much easier to rally the conservative base if you call it "abortion" instead of "contraception". Good Catholics believe birth control pills and condoms are just as bad as removing an actual formed fetus. I should know – that's how I was conceived – dad didn't want to wear a rubber!

    • Even Pro-choice does not consider abortion a form of contraception and have been trying to distance themselves from that idea.
      Contraception is about not conceiving. Family planning is about planned conception.
      Abortion deals with the failure of one of the two.

  18. Harper proposes a policy where Canada`s aid policy will be targeted to a much-needed area. Helping the living conditions and health of pregnant women and young mothers. Seems like a good idea. The old way of dropping bags of grain from airplanes and direct cash transfers from our country to a dictatorial regime just helps the violent elements of these countries become stronger.

    Iggy and his supporters react to this initative by demanding reassurance that abortion access in Africa will not be hindered. The people of Canada are once again puzzled by the motives of the Liberal back room boys.

    • Should be fairly easy then for Harper yes? All he has to say is "No, it won't. This has nothing to do with that."

      Unfortunately.. that's not what he said.

      • The Liberals chose to bring the abortion debate into this foreign aid initative for crass politicial reasons. Why should Harper help them by engaging in a debate about something that has nothing to o with the initative ?

        • Even if crass political reasons were the motivation, I still want to know if family planning will be on the table. It is the single most effective way to deal with problems related to pregnancy – by preventing them. I can't even believe that you're offended by crass political reasons at this point – team Harper set that pace right out of the gate.

          • The focus is on keeping babies alive by providing basic needs.

            First they have to be born alive,
            then the mother has to also live so as to raise them,
            then efforts to not have babies die due to common diseases, illness due to contaminated water and poor nutrition.

            The focus is on keeping babies alive by providing basic needs.

            No, family planning is not on the agenda,
            it is not about controlling the population,
            it's about saving babies.

          • Too bad it's not about making sure the mother's stay healthy. Given that it's called "maternal health" and all.

          • -Not offended by crass politics. I just don`t see why you expect Harper to help extricate Iggy from a mess of his own creation.

            By the way, Do you think there might be a problem with the family-oriented peoples of Africa when you try to convince them that " the single most effective way to deal with problems related with pregnancy – by preventing them.? They might think your 21st century close to zero birthrate looks a lot like imperialism.

          • Ah, see, this is the difference, you see it as a mess on Iggy's hands, I see it as an increasing mess on Harper's hands, because it's making it clear how he doesn't think his government should be transparent or accountable.

        • Right. Sorry. Forgot that having independance and asking questions about all matters of government isn't something the opposition is supposed to do.. oh wait..

  19. Sure, there's lots to be done on factors other than abortion and contraception.

    But that's no reason to eliminate those two deliverables from our foreign aid policies. Some good can be done within those two categories. Of course, we have no idea what the policy is because Harper and Oda won't tell us.

  20. "so the baby one day prior to birth can be killed without legal consequence."

    There's not a doctor in Canada willing to perform such a procedure.

  21. If the Harperites were really that concerned about unborn children and their mothers, they make sure to have enough childcare spaces right here in Canada for the ones that are alive and born in families where there is a need. For the single mothers or the low income families who do decide against abortion, having their children in a safe haven while they go to work is an absolute necessity that a $100 cheque per month can't even begin to substitute.

    I can't suffer the hypocrisy. This so called concern for unborn children is a red herring. This is really about what they perceive to be a problem with women and their sexuality.

    • So you think it`s OK to equate a suburban Canadian family feeling entitled to state-funded child care with a third-world mother trying to save enough food scraps for herself so she can feed her baby.

      Put the shovel away. You`re getting deeper.

      • A baby, be it in Canada or in a developping country is still a baby, yes?

        In any case, there are plenty of low-income single women who make the difficult decision to keep their baby and either can't afford child care or can't find any. The hypocrisy that I am pointing to is that of those who would oppose the creation of those childcare spaces with their taxe dollars but are vociferantly against a woman's right to choose and have made a woman's reproductive rights their personal business.

        Again, it isn't about the unborn child. That's a lie. They could care less what happens to that child once it is born. This is about control because, fundamentally, a good number of them firmly believe that abortion is rooted in a woman's inability to restrain her sexuality.

  22. Wow. All this over some announcements for foreign aid. If the Liberals couldn't force an abortion debate in Canada, they made sure they forced on internationally.

  23. Some day you and I have to meet up for a beer, Ezro.