Jack Layton’s awkward dance on abortion

At the moment, I’m watching MPs vote on motions before the House of Commons. A controversial vote on a Liberal motion on “Maternal and Child Heath” was just narrowly defeated, thanks in large part to a hold-out of Liberal MPs standing against Michael Ignatieff.

Most will remember that earlier this year, Michael Ignatieff got himself into some hot water by challenging Prime Minister Harper on the delivery of health and support for women and children in the third world. The Liberal leader decided to add the divisive issue of abortion into the mix and suffered the headline from The Catholic Register: “Ignatieff urges abortion for world’s poor”.

Before the vote, the NDP put out a press release concerning the wavering Liberal position on “maternal health” criticizing the Liberals and their leader for replacing demands to include abortion services in aid with a demand for “contraception”.

Today the Liberal Party will propose a motion asking that the government “include the full range of family planning” in its maternal and child health initiative to be unveiled in June at the G8 summit in Toronto.

At first glance, the motion is in keeping with what Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff pledged last month:

that aid for abortions abroad is crucial if Prime Minister Harper is serious about making maternal health a “top priority” for Canada.

“We don’t want to have women dying because of botched procedures. We don’t want to have women dying in misery. We’ve had a pro-choice consensus in this area for a couple of generations and we want to hold it.” – Michael Ignatieff, Toronto Star, Feb 2 2010.

But the devil is always in the details. A closer read of the motion shows that in the intervening weeks the Ignatieff Liberals have backpeddled from their earlier position, making specific reference only to “contraception” but not abortion.

If Layton is so sensitive about a simple motion before the House, he must have hit the wall when it came to not only the biggest domestic piece of American legislation since the new deal, but also the biggest horse-trading session as well.

Among concessions suffered by the Obama administration in jamming the Frankenstein piece of legislation through Congress was one final sell-out of the progressive/liberal plank of the Liberal wing of the Democratic base.

Late on Sunday, Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak wressled one final concession from Obama securing an executive order from the President banning federal funding for abortion in turn securing passage of the bill. But while we’re on the topic of federal funding for abortion, let’s check to see Layton’s reaction in the House yesterday to the passing of abortion-free Obamacare:

Mr. Speaker, 44 years after medicare was implemented in Canada, we extend our congratulations to President Obama for bringing comprehensive health care reform to the people of the United States. Now, of course, the Americans will be looking to Canada for the next steps.

One wonders if Tommy Douglas envisioned a system where “big insurance” would be guaranteed profits and profits collected by the IRS, no less. Federal funding of abortions for none, tiny hope and change stickers for everyone!

The devil is in the details, Jack.

Comments

comments

  • Paul

    Abortions will be paid for by ObamaCare. The Executive Order is a non-binding cover for Stupak and his ilk to hide behind when they voted to support the legislation.
    It was a pure and simple sellout by a “Pro-Life Democrat”.

  • lwestin

    The details aren't exactly clear yet. One thing to note. Planned Parenthood isn't concerned about the EO. I'm guessing this means they have been reassured the funding for abortion (the 'stimulus package' for their industry) is still on track.
    Interesting that you credit the Liberals themselves for defeat of their motion. Wouldn't want any undue credit in this area to shadow the CPC, would we.

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    He may envision that executive order being rescinded.

  • Surecure

    It's kind of beside the point of what happens in the perceivable future, don't you think? Sure, it could turn out one way or another down the road. But that doesn't stop the fact that Obama actually made a Presidential declaration that stops government funding of abortion. He made a stand against abortion funding.

    So, in Canada, the Liberals and NDP make a stink because Harper didn't automatically put in funding of contraceptive measures in a bill about helping pregnant women in a foreign country that doesn't pay taxes to Canada. The media chimes in and covers it with great gusto. Harper never raised abortion and is getting tarred and feathered for it.

    But, when Obama comes straight out with a Presidential order specifically focused on saying that the government of the US will not fund abortions for it's OWN people… you can hear the crickets chirp North of the border. And you'll never hear the likes of Jane Taber or Craig Oliver or Lloyd Robertson actually ask Iggy or Layton or anybody about what they think of Obama's anti-abortion stance.

    Yeah… no media bias up here!

  • bryanr

    now of course the americans will be looking to Canada for the next step – jack layton

    * hate to burst your bubble there jack But most americans dont even know Canada exist or can find it on a map. And those that do think we are snow bound 12 months of a yr & dont speak english for gawds sake
    Oh btw Surecure: here here, well stated

  • jlwautoworld

    Herein lies the difference between a mixed economy and the economy in the states. Obama is just trying to level the playing field.

  • east of eden

    Stephen: totally OT – do you have any idea what's happened with Janke? I'm a little concerned for the guy.

  • kenn2

    wrong. The agreement with Stupak simply affirms that the new Health Care Reform bill does not change the current federal restrictions on abortion funding.

  • kenn2

    But that doesn't stop the fact that Obama actually made a Presidential declaration that stops government funding of abortion. He made a stand against abortion funding.

    -sigh – wrong. See my response to Paul. BTW, you do know that many states themselves fund abortions, do you not?

    Yeah… no media bias up here!

    And a marked failure to stay informed, too…

  • kenn2

    Did you know that Planned Parenthood arranges or provides less than 20% of all American abortions? The bulk of their efforts are towards family planning and preventing unwanted pregnancies. They mainly provide education and counseling, including on contraception options.

    Oh I forgot, you folks don't like sex ed either…

  • kenn2

    wrong. The agreement with Stupak simply affirms that the new Health Care Reform bill does not change the current federal restrictions on abortion funding.

  • kenn2

    But that doesn't stop the fact that Obama actually made a Presidential declaration that stops government funding of abortion. He made a stand against abortion funding.

    -sigh – wrong. See my response to Paul. BTW, you do know that many states themselves fund abortions, do you not?

    Yeah… no media bias up here!

    And a marked failure to stay informed, too…

  • kenn2

    Did you know that Planned Parenthood arranges or provides less than 20% of all American abortions? The bulk of their efforts are towards family planning and preventing unwanted pregnancies. They mainly provide education and counseling, including on contraception options.

    Oh I forgot, you folks don't like sex ed either…

  • Anonymous

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    t/c….