Monday, May 3, 2010

Canada: Abortion Doesn't Equal Maternal and Child Health; Sec. Clinton Disagrees

Something good is afoot in Canada. On Monday, April 27th, Canadian government leaders announced that funding abortion would not be a component of the country's agenda for improving maternal and child health at the upcoming G8 summit on global development.

The announcement flies in the face of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's advocacy on the matter at a pre-summit meeting in March:

"You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health. And reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion," said Secretary Clinton in response to questions about the U.S. position on the matter.

The announcement on April 27th was made by Canada's International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda:

"Canada’s contribution to maternal and child health may involve various interventions, including family planning, which includes the use of contraceptive methods,” said Oda, who heads the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), according to the Toronto Star. “The details remain to be determined; however, Canada’s contribution will not include funding of abortions.”

While that's great news, let it be known that Canada has funded International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) since the mid-1980s, according to the Toronto Star. IPPF is involved in promoting and performing abortion around the globe. So, consider the move by Canada only a first step, but by no means a "baby step" for Canada.

Also of note, Canada chose to make the announcement side-by-side with U.S. leaders in an attempt to smooth over their differences. Minister Oda was joined by Rajiv Shaw, chief administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development. At the press conference Shaw spoke out about the need for "safe abortion" but claimed that the U.S. and Canada were not at odds on abortion and global aid. (Isn't it interesting when leaders can say one thing and do another?)

Washington Post columnist and former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, calls Secretary of State Clinton's advocacy an "abortion grenade" that threatens the bi-partisan, U.S. coalition on global development which has successfully come together to help combat diseases like AIDS and malaria, without promoting abortion. In his words, her pro-abortion advocacy is not only an affront to countries taking a pro-life stand, it also risks our national consensus on global aid. If that's lost, so may be the critical, life-saving support for hurting countries, particularly in Africa.

But let's celebrate the good news in Canada. The fact that their government leaders had the political will to come to this pro-life decision reflects the growing culture of life that is not only taking hold in the U.S. but across North America. While many factors contribute to these changes, we know that the compassionate work of pregnancy centers across Canada plays an integral role.

There are 70 pregnancy centers ("centres" in Canada) that are affiliated with Care Net, as well as our "sister" organization, the Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services (CAPSS). CAPPS held their national conference this past week and Care Net's own Jeanneane Maxon was there, teaching some workshops on best practices. Keep their work in your prayers, as well as those in the Canadian government who are taking a courageous stand for life.

Kristin Hansen is Vice President of Communications at Care Net. She can be reached at