Ignatieff urges Harper not to exclude abortion, contraception from G8
OTTAWA (CP) — Michael Ignatieff is urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper not to exclude abortion and contraception from his plan to become an international champion of women’s and children’s health.
The Liberal leader sought assurances Tuesday that Harper’s agenda to improve the lot of women and children in the world’s poorest countries will include funding for all reproductive health services.
“ Women are entitled to the full gamut of reproductive health services and that includes termination of pregnancy and contraception,” Ignatieff told a Liberalsponsored roundtable discussion on foreign aid and international development.
Harper is hosting the G8 summit in June and he’s vowed to use the opportunity to launch a major initiative to improve the health of women and children.
Ignatieff urged the Harper government not to follow the lead of the United States, which in the past has cut funding to some aid organizations that promote the use of contraceptives and abor- tion.
The Liberals subsequently issued a news release expressing fear that Harper is already going down the American path. It cited a petition filed in the House of Commons by Conservative MP Brad Trost urging the government to cut funding to the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
And it cited a pro-life newspaper report that the Harper government has all but eliminated funding for Canada’s member on the IPPF, the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health.
The release went on to list a series of anti-abortion comments from various Conservative MPs, dating as far back as 1990. Most of the quotes were unrelated to Canada’s foreign aid policy.
The latter tactic was risky in so far as a good number of Liberal MPs hold equally strong views against abortion, including Toronto MP John McKay, who cochaired Tuesday’s roundtable discussions.
Nevertheless, Ignatieff said foreign aid involving women is “the last place to start playing politics” or injecting ideology.
“ We don’t want women dying because of botched procedures. We don’t want women dying in misery. We want women to be able to care for themselves better and then look after their kids better,” he told reporters later.
“ These are simple objectives and let’s keep the ideology out of this and move forward.”
A spokesman for Harper said the Liberal leader is the one who is needlessly politicizing the issue.
“ This has nothing to do with abortion, in any way, shape or form,” said Dimitri Soudas, accusing Liberals of “ fear-mongering” and raising “red herrings.”
Soudas said Harper and the other G8 leaders have “one clear objective and that is saving lives of vulnerable children and mothers in the developing world.”