Ig­nati­eff urges Harper not to ex­clude abor­tion, con­tra­cep­tion from G8

Cape Breton Post - - OUR COMMUNITY -

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.”

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