Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 8, 2010
Strike abortion from maternal, child health initiative
Pro-life voices worry UN, developed countries may promote abortion as part of the Harper initiative
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - Pro-life groups commend Canada's plans to lead an international initiative to improve maternal and child health in the world's poorest countries - as long as the programs do not become a front for abortion.
"Care of the poor is at the heart of the Catholic Church's social teaching and that includes the right of women to receive good health care that respects their human dignity," said Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) director Michele Boulva.
"It is a very good idea and we applaud this initiative."
"However, there's a misguided trend at the United Nations and among some developed countries to promote abortion as part of maternal health," she said. "The idea is that you lower maternal and infant mortality by lowering the number of children who are born."
"We hope that the Harper government will resist any pressure to go in the direction of promoting abortion in order to lower maternal mortality in developing nations," she said. "Abortion is not the answer."
"The answer is a safer environment in which to give birth, proper care during pregnancy, at childbirth and post-natal resources," she said.
However, less than a week after Boulva's comments, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said that if Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to promote the health of poor mothers around the world, he should support access to abortion and contraception.
"We want to make sure that women have access to all the contraceptive methods available to control their fertility. Because we don't want to have women dying because of botched procedures," Ignatieff told reporters Feb. 2.
Harper has said that he plans to use his position as president of the G8 this year to lead a major initiative to promote the health of mothers and children in the world's poorest countries. He has not said whether he supports assistance for abortion rights advocates.
Campaign Life Coalition President Jim Hughes said he wrote Harper congratulating him on his plans.
Hughes said he and members of the International Right to Life Federation will discuss various initiatives and offer their assistance.
They will assemble a list of many groups such as MaterCare International that are already doing work in the area of maternal and child health, he said.
In a Jan. 26 op ed in the Toronto Star and La Presse, Harper said an estimated 500,000 women lose their lives in childbirth and nine million children die before their fifth birthday every year.
"Members of the G8 can make a tangible difference in maternal and child health and Canada will be making this the top priority in June," said Harper, referring to the G8 meeting in Huntsville, Ont.
"Too many lives and unexplored futures have already been lost for want of relatively simple health care solutions."
International Development Minister Bev Oda held a roundtable meeting with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) Jan. 26 where she laid out tangible goals that focused on stopping preventable deaths similar to those Harper spoke of: clean water, inoculations, better nutrition, the training of health workers to care for women and deliver babies.
ABORTION AS A RIGHT
Hughes said that he hoped Harper would not be "blindsided" by advice from pro-abortion groups.
"I hope he will not accept the tack that we have to have abortion as an international human right and condoms for all and all this crazy nonsense."
He noted the irony that overtly Catholic organizations like MaterCare don't receive government funding. "It's a darn shame," he said.
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