Ignatieff out of step with the UN on abortion

So there I was watching the National on CBC. It’s been quite a few days of discussion, at least in Conservative circles, about the partisan affiliation (or appearance of as much) of pollster Frank Graves and his call for the Liberal mainstream to take up war against the Conservative horde. I hadn’t seen the National in a few weeks so I thought I’d give it a fair viewing.

Cue the top story of the day according to the CBC: abortion!

What we learned from the top story? That Canada’s long standing position on abortion faces “reversal” with CIDA minister Bev Oda’s pronunciation on the topic today. Canada will not help fund third world abortions as part of an initiative of maternal health.

But is it a reversal? There is actually no legislation from Parliament on the issue. There is no law restricting it, no law promoting it. Canada’s position if it can be stated, is that there’s NO position.

Yet, we learn that Canada’s non-position is about to be reversed. No, not that it’s taking a firm position on its domestic policy with respect to abortion, but that Canada will continue to not fund third world abortions. This is a reversal according to The National. Nevermind that Canada’s non-position domestically is not even a fair lens through which to view our international status quo position, it’s a “reversal”.

If from that you’ve sorted it all out, perhaps you’re on the right side of Frank Graves’ culture war. But me? I’m sitting on the sideline scratching my head.

Let’s add some more confusion. The Liberals and media frame the Conservative position as “out of step” with that of the UK and the US. Let’s set aside that when the US didn’t fund third world abortions it was called the “Bush” position rather than the “US” position. But hey why not check the United Nations position on abortion:

From the United Nations Population Fund, paragraph 8.25 states:

“In no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning. All Governments and relevant intergovernmental and non governmental organizations are urged to strengthen their commitment to women’s health, to deal with the health impact of unsafe abortion as a major public health concern and to reduce the recourse to abortion through expanded and improved family planning services. Prevention of unwanted pregnancies must always be given the highest priority and all attempts should be made to eliminate the need for abortion. Women who have unwanted pregnancies should have ready access to reliable information and compassionate counselling. Any measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level according to the national legislative process. In circumstances in which abortion is not against the law, such abortion should be safe. In all cases women should have access to quality services for the management of complications arising from abortion. Post abortion counselling, education and family planning services should be offered promptly which will also help to avoid repeat abortions.”

and just to drive the point home:

Does the UN provide funding for abortion?

No. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the main United Nations body involved in population issues, does not support or promote abortion in any country, nor does it provide assistance for abortion services or abortion-related equipment and supplies. It strictly abides by the Programme of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, which states that “in no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning”. UNFPA works to prevent abortion through family planning, and helps countries to provide services for women suffering from the complications of unsafe abortions. The Fund helps developing countries to establish national reproductive health programmes and reduce maternal illness and death, as well as in family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention. UNFPA also helps countries compile reliable demographic data and carry out censuses. As the largest international source of population assistance, UNFPA is funded entirely by voluntary contributions.

So, where’s the headline? Harper doesn’t change status quo but “reverses” an undefined policy that is by not only undefined but by the definition of “undefined”, irreversible?

Or is the headline “Ignatieff out of step with the UN on abortion”?

Consider this: Perhaps the real story is that Mr. Ignatieff — having defined himself as “Mr. Internationalism” and a leader who would “regain Canada’s place in the world” — now is out of step with the very embodiment of internationalism that all DFAITers pine after.

But perhaps this internationalist position isn’t as fashionable to Mr. Ignatieff is it? If it were, we think he’d be all over it like soy milk on Kasha.

Now, that I’m done watching the National, I better turn the channel. The Hour is on and its George on George. Strombo woopin up the audience for his next guest, George Galloway.

The culture war is underway.

Comments

comments

  • Hoarfrost

    Thank you for permitting to comment without facebook. I still cannot comment on many sites without contracting with facebook which I would prefer not to do yet. I cancelled my facebook account with reason over 2 years ago. You seem to have some oversight on this site. Can you use your influence to change this new paradigm.

    I even attempted to respond to a french posting with my equivocal french only to find that I couldn't comment. My google account doesn't work anymore.

  • Bec

    Welcome to our world, Stephen. NOW, can we get something done about this lying bunch of tax sucking leeches?

  • Bec

    You should be able to resign up on Google. AS well, I haven't found that any site requires a FB acct, on the contrary, many don't even belong.
    Just you and your e-mail address which is kept confidential can get you on most sites.
    For those that use google and if you choose not to resign up, they accept your comment as ANON but many guests will sign their name at the end. Good luck!

  • http://queensalive.blogspot.com Paul Griffiths

    Abortion isn't health care. It kills an innocent human being. It's an act of violence and a violation of the most fundamental human right.

    Shame on the sophists who make cynical appeals to “choice” and “reproductive rights”. These slogans are totally transparent and without substance. People should be forced to confront what abortion actually is, instead of comforting themselves with such shallow reasoning.

    http://queensalive.blogspot.com/2010/04/no-abor

  • Louise

    Actually, as a conservative, I have to give the CPC a FAIL on explaining conservative thinking to the public, except for Maxime. We all knew what the Libs were asking for at the G8 was insane internationally, but the PMO is just doing the right thing in the background, without explaining clearly why, as you have done, and lets the media run amok !! Why did they not come out with what you have and stated that we have to respect the diversity of the world? Why did they not push back on Clinton, as her country eshews pro-choice?

    This is why we do not have our majority. They should have found a pro-choice conservative in a pro-choice riding (preferably female) to explain to the stupid WHY this international plan was stupid. The communication plan needs improvement.

    The press-Liebral gang up does work, as Canadians only pay attention to sound-bites while the Trudeau utopia rots.

    Negative ads are not the way to go – we need local politicians taling locally. There need to be a lot more people saying NO, we do not need a freeking national food plan, as the provinces, Health Canada, GIS, Agri-foods etc already spend whole whacks of money on this with few results.

  • Gabby in QC

    “Let’s set aside that when the US didn’t fund third world abortions it was called the “Bush” position rather than the “US” position.”

    I already pointed this out elsewhere, when the topic first came up in March.
    The so-called “Bush policy” was actually put in place by President Reagan in 1984.
    “The Mexico City Policy, also known by critics as the Mexico City Gag Rule and the Global Gag Rule, was an intermittent United States government policy that required all non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive federal funding to refrain from performing or promoting abortion services, as a method of family planning, in other countries. …” [From Wiki]
    But of course Bob Rae & Paul Dewar get more mileage out of it by calling it “the Bush gag rule”.

    The Liberals and the NDP also disingenuously use “family planning” when they actually mean “abortion”.
    Those terms are not synonymous.
    UBC Clinical Professor of Obs-Gyn Dorothy Shaw:
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/th
    “… Actually, the A-word is nowhere in the definition of “family planning,” nor is it mentioned in the 2007 World Health Organization handbook on family planning, other than providing contraception for women who have experienced a miscarriage or abortion. …
    To take one part of it distracts from the need to get clarity on broader integrated approaches focused on primary health care, such as family planning [contraception], antenatal care, essential obstetric/newborn care, postpartum care, immunizations, prevention and management of malaria, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, that must be provided in co-ordinated, cost-effective ways accessible to the population in question. …”

    Also, the opposition's claims that we should follow the US (read Ms. Clinton) lead on maternal health apparently are not aware of this:
    http://www.guttmacher.org/media/inthenews/2010/
    “February 5, 2010

    On February 1, President Obama sent his proposed budget for the fiscal year starting October 1, 2010 to Congress. On the domestic front, the administration’s top priority for reproductive health and rights is teen pregnancy prevention, for which the administration is recommending a significant boost in funding. …
    On the international front, the administration has unveiled the outlines of the Global Health Initiative that the president first announced last year. Family planning and reproductive health programs and maternal and child health programs figure prominently, and the administration is recommending significant increases in both areas. …
    Abortion funding restrictions riddle the federal budget and, technically speaking, come up for review annually on the various appropriations bills. …”

    More interesting facts:
    http://centurylink.net/video/play/341662?playli
    The CBC's Carole MacNeil talks to Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow for US foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, about G8 plans to improve maternal health.
    Ms. Coleman stated:
    • 15% of maternal deaths are due to unsafe abortions
    • 85% of maternal deaths have nothing to do with abortion

    Three pillars to promoting maternal health:
    • access to family planning [contraception]
    • access to healthcare, ante-natal & post-natal care
    • safe abortions where legal, but illegal in many developing countries
    G8 countries would face difficulties in trying to impose abortion on those populations.

    I must agree with Louise, though. The Conservative message is often not clearly stated. On this issue it appeared to be wavering at times. If the policy had been stated clearly from the outset, the opposition and the media would not be able to add even more confusion.

  • NovaDog

    If I was a non-partisan news paper, Stephens article would be front page news.

  • Liz J

    Does Graves get royalties every time the Liberals use the word “culture” ? If so he's raking in a good bit from the HOC rhetoric.

  • http://djxtreme-seashell.blogspot.com/ SeanMcAllister

    What new lows can they stoop to? It's one thing to invent policy, or state his policy as something the current Gov supports. But it's another altogether to state a policy that does not exist, just to attack the current PM. Maybe he is confused because he is not really a citizen and is recalling the U.S policy for which he calls home. Go back there Ignotenough we dont want you, or need you. Youve embarrassed us enough. And I thought E. May was bad. He's worse lol wow imagine that.

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

    The “culture war” has never stopped. Each political party has been dividing and pandering on this strategy for years.

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

    Great point calling for more local community input and messaging to counter the MSM.

  • jad

    Given all the problems that the abortion issue caused the Obama administration in getting their Obamacare bill passed recently, it is hard to understand why ANYONE would think that the US would be able to fund abortions in third world countries when government funding for abortions for Americans is not acceptable.

  • lwestin
  • lwestin
  • Gabby in QC

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/04/27/mater
    “Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae pointed out that thousands of young women have been raped in Congo, and asked if it is now the government's policy to deny those women access to abortion.”

    Once again, Bob Rae misleads the House with that question. Is he aware that in both the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo abortions are not legal in cases of rape?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_law#Africa
    Does Rae expect Canada to march into those countries to impose its will on those governments?

  • batb

    Bob Rae is a real piece of work.

    'Speaking of the Congo, here is a comment and link I posted at SDA this morning:

    [begin quote]

    We need penicillin, not condoms (or abortions) in central Africa:

    “US aid agencies want to revitalise family planning in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is certifiably insane.”

    http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/we_nee

    [end quote]

    From the United Nations Population Fund (above): “Any measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level according to the national legislative process.”

    Exactly. What's Bob Rae's problem, or Hillary Clinton's — both lawyers — in understanding these jurisdictional constraints (often moral and spiritual ones as well) in developing countries? Germaine Greer heaps scorn on progressives in the West imposing their solutions — not that abortion is much of a solution to unwanted pregnancies; it tends to create unintended negative consequences in the lives of aborting women — on women in third-world and developing countries (from an article by Jennifer Somerville):

    “How is it then that in 1999, Germaine Greer felt forced to write a sequel to The Female Eunuch, … [in which she argues that] liberalized abortion law … rarely represents the realities of Third World countries … ”

    http://sp.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstra

  • Beer and Popcorn

    If a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear?

    Is the CBC's culture war really a culture war if nobody's watching?

  • east of eden

    You know, abortion should not be considered to be family planning. Abortion is actually family UN-planning and UNdoing. Killing a human being in the womb is reversing the family addition. So, really, family planning should be about planning when and how many – not murdering an innocent baby. Family planning, way back when, was about contraception and timing/number of children. It certainly was not about cold-blooded murder.

  • joannetb

    But is it a reversal? There is actually no legislation from Parliament on the issue. There is no law restricting it, no law promoting it. Canada’s position if it can be stated, is that there’s NO position.

    Exactly. There is no law so there is no reversal.

    However most provinces force the taxpayer to fund abortions in Canada. Now the lefties want Canadian taxpayers to fund abortions in other countries too.

    But isn't it rather repugnant when you think about it that Bob Rae and company see this as a solution to problems in the Third World? Surely there are better ways to help out.

  • Gabby in QC

    Interesting article here:
    http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/op-ed/actu
    Let's actually make maternity safer
    BY SHANNON A. JOSEPH, CITIZEN SPECIAL APRIL 27, 2010

    “… To the average Canadian, the obvious objective of maternal health programs would be to make motherhood and childbearing safer. Not so for many UN agencies, donor countries and powerful NGOs working at the United Nations. Their approach is to make motherhood safer by making it rarer. At the expense of the world's pregnant women, maternal health has become the latest vehicle for an old idea — population control as a path to development. …

    If Canada is to lead this maternal health mandate, it should respect the rights and autonomy of the citizens of developing countries and respond to their true needs. Neither the state nor UN agencies should determine how many children a woman should have. Moreover, if we see developing countries as partners at the table, then attempts to surreptitiously enforce population control through maternal health are an insult to them and their women.

    Let us actually make motherhood safer. Let us use our donor dollars to facilitate access to water and sanitation, proper nutrition, health care — including good obstetric care — and health education so that mothers can have healthy kids and remain healthy themselves.”

  • AFewFigs

    I found this Jan 2009 statement at the UNFPA site:

    [Q]Will money be used for abortions?

    No. UNFPA's work is guided by the Programme of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo, Egypt. It states that abortion should not be promoted as a method of family planning. UNFPA fully subscribes to this and does not provide support for abortion services. It works to prevent abortion through family planning, and to help countries provide services for women suffering from the complications of unsafe abortion.

    http://www.unfpa.org/support/friends/34million….

    Could it be that Lifesite is misrepresenting the UNFPA position because it seems to uncategorically denounce abortions as I read it.

  • kenn2

    It's shameful that both the CPC and Liberals are pushing the hot-button of abortion when it comes to the issue of funding international aid for maternal and family health issues.

    To be clear, I am not happy that Ignatieff “broke” this story this winter, to rouse the pro-choice majority of their base. All I can say in the Liberals' defense is that it was probably a pre-emptive strike against the CPCs plan to emphasize the “family” and no-abortion parts of the package to appeal to the anti-abortion sentiment in their base.

    So, shame all round.

    There is real danger in explicitly declaring that aid will not be used to fund 'X' (in this case abortion) because it now makes that funding a tool for political influence, or for avoiding funding certain countries altogether. All the Canadian government now has to do is to say “we won't fund aid to country Y because their health regime provides X”, which would potentially exclude providing aid to any country with government-provided healthcare, if it includes abortion. Which many do, in case you're wondering.

    Harper's not brave enough to simply say that we are funding this health aid initiative, without specifically including or excluding abortion at all, because he knows the CPC base would be on his back about it. Hence, Minister Ota's announcement. Pity.

  • Liz J

    Ignatieff is out of step period. He's a disaster. He appears to be getting a few hits from the Liberal media gang as well. Not a good sign.

  • east of eden

    I never put these two together but I just read this in Sarah Palin’s book. Her son, Track, was 17 and in the ER with a dislocated shoulder (hockey) and it took her some time to get to the hospital (she was with one of her daughters and cell coverage was spotty). He had lain there for a few hours, in pain and wanting some water to drink but the hospital could not do a thing without parental consent because he was a minor. Here is what she wrote, that got me enraged:

    ‘I even wondered out loud about why this big, strapping, nearly grown man who was overcome with pain couldn’t even get a drink of water without parental consent, yet a thirteen-year-old girl could undergo a painful, invasive and scary abortion and no parent even had to be notified’.

    I have the feeling that I’ll read about her changing the parental notification laws later in the book.

  • kenn2

    Who's out of step on abortion?
    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/8060
    http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Choose+eviden

    In case links bore you, just read this, pulled from one of them:

    The G8 initiative must promote the reproductive rights of women. The public health evidence is clear and irrefutable: in areas where reproductive rights are respected, maternal outcomes improve. Providing safe and legal access to abortion is an important component of this. Providing such access addresses a key cause of maternal mortality. And it ensures consistency between Canadian laws, which respect the right of women to choose abortion, and Canada's international policies. Should women outside of Canada be treated any differently?

  • kenn2

    Who's out of step on abortion?
    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/8060
    http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Choose+eviden

    In case links bore you, just read this, pulled from one of them:

    The G8 initiative must promote the reproductive rights of women. The public health evidence is clear and irrefutable: in areas where reproductive rights are respected, maternal outcomes improve. Providing safe and legal access to abortion is an important component of this. Providing such access addresses a key cause of maternal mortality. And it ensures consistency between Canadian laws, which respect the right of women to choose abortion, and Canada's international policies. Should women outside of Canada be treated any differently?