Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 15, 2010
Collins, Henry blast Ignatieff's enthusiasm for abortion
Abortion no way to improve health, says Collins
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - Two Catholic bishops have publicly criticized Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff's recent insistence on abortion in overseas maternal and child health as "astonishing" and "pathetic."
But Ignatieff still insists Prime Minister Stephen Harper must include "termination of pregnancy" in any international initiative Harper hopes to lead to help women and children in the developing world.
"The prime minister said he wants to make it a priority at the G8 and the G20. Great," Ignatieff told journalists in Guelph, Ont., Feb. 5. "But if you're going to do that you got to provide the full range of reproductive health services for women and for children and that includes termination of pregnancy."
"I thought it was pathetic for a political leader to suggest that abortion is somehow tied to the health of women and children," Calgary Bishop Fred Henry told the National Post Feb. 6.
"It was absolutely incredible that he would say that and he is alienating religious people with these comments," Henry said. "This will not win him votes."
Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins said there are many "fruitful ways" to improve women's health, including the provision of clean water, immunization and adequate food. But abortion is not one of them.
Ignatieff waded into the topic Feb. 2 while speaking before a group of Liberal MPs and representatives from about 50 non-governmental organizations in Ottawa. Harper's plans must include an investment in "the full gamut of reproductive health services," he said.
"Women are entitled to the full gamut of reproductive health services and that includes termination of pregnancy and contraception," Ignatieff said.
Collins expressed surprise and sadness at the remarks.
It is astonishing, he said in a Feb. 4 statement, that Ignatieff "has issued an official statement advocating contraception and abortion as fundamental elements in addressing this important issue.
"There are many fruitful ways to improve maternal and child health and the discussion should centre on the most effective strategies for doing this."
Collins said he awaited the "tangible measures" Harper will propose. "Even those who think that abortion should be allowed do not, however, propose it as a positive contribution to the good of society."
"When there are so many obvious practical steps that can be taken to promote maternal and child health throughout the world, it is sad to see Mr. Ignatieff introduce into the discussion this negative proposal, which in no way serves to improve the health of mothers or children, but which rather imperils the most vulnerable among us," Collins said.
The Harper government is not off the hook, however. Concerns about abortion came to the fore after International Development Minister Bev Oda met Jan. 26 with several NGOs, among them some that take an aggressive approach to abortion and family planning.
Unlike the United States which has had policies of not funding abortions overseas, CIDA has contributed money to pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood.
"We don't have a leaning and this is why we're doing the consulting and we're getting the best advice that we can," Oda replied when asked how Canada would try to lower the rates of maternal death and infant mortality.
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