Although the federal government said in April that it wouldn’t fund agencies that provide abortions as part of Stephen Harper’s maternal health plan, The Globe and Mail is reporting that at least one agency funded by Canada is providing illegal abortions in South Africa and other countries. Despite the risk of jail, the unnamed organization claims to provide a safer alternative for women who face death or injury from unsafe backstreet practitioners. One in seven deaths in pregnancy and childbirth in Africa is due to complications from unsafe abortions and an estimated 25,000 women die from botched procedures each year. Restrictions on abortion affect over 90 per cent of Africa’s population and 14 countries prohibit the practice entirely. Ottawa faced criticism from women’s rights groups when it refused to discuss the inclusion of abortion in its $5-billion maternal health plan announced in June ahead of the G8 summit. European countries have funded safe-abortion initiatives in the past.
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