Deny­ing abor­tion akin to vi­o­lence: Mon­sef

The Peterborough Examiner - - NEWS - JOANNA SMITH

Sta­tus of Women Min­is­ter and Peter­bor­ough-Kawartha MP Maryam Mon­sef says deny­ing ac­cess to the full range of re­pro­duc­tive ser­vices — in­clud­ing abor­tion — is a form of vi­o­lence against women.

“Re­pro­duc­tive health rights in Canada and around the world are crit­i­cal to ad­vanc­ing gen­der equal­ity and the em­pow­er­ment of women and girls,” Mon­sef said Thurs­day in an in­ter­view with The Cana­dian Press.

“We’re com­mit­ted to mak­ing sure that women and girls have that choice, be­cause oth­er­wise, this is a form of gen­der-based vi­o­lence.”

That is why Sta­tus of Women Canada, the agency she leads, is giv­ing Planned Par­ent­hood Ottawa $285,000 for a three-year pro­ject aimed at im­prov­ing lo­cal ser­vices for women and girls who face bar­ri­ers to their re­pro­duc­tive rights, such as be­ing co­erced into ei­ther preg­nancy or abor­tion, or hav­ing trou­ble get­ting con­tra­cep­tives.

Those bar­ri­ers can in­clude pres­sure or threats from part­ners or fam­i­lies, as well as sys­temic is­sues fac­ing women from marginal­ized and vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties, such as those with dis­abil­i­ties, im­mi­grants and refugees, sex work­ers, peo­ple from the LGBTQ com­mu­nity and those liv­ing with HIV or AIDS, but also young women and moth­ers in gen­eral.

Sta­tus of Women Canada con­firmed that Planned Par­ent­hood Ottawa — not a clinic, but a pro­choice char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­vides coun­selling, re­fer­rals and other ser­vices re­lated to sex­ual and re­pro­duc­tive health — ap­plied for the fund­ing in fis­cal 2015-16, and that the pro­ject would have been el­i­gi­ble even within the nar­rower cri­te­ria es­tab­lished by the pre­vi­ous Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment.

It is not dif­fi­cult to imag­ine, though, why the gov­ern­ment might be high­light­ing the pro­ject at this par­tic­u­lar mo­ment in time.

Mon­sef did not men­tion U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump by name, but the spec­tre of his ad­min­is­tra­tion was front and cen­tre as she stressed the im­por­tance of pro­tect­ing re­pro­duc­tive rights both in Canada and in other coun­tries.

“We know all the re­search out there, all the promis­ing prac­tices out there, fun­da­men­tally the val­ues that we hold onto in this coun­try, we know that this is im­por­tant to ad­dress and Canada’s sup­port to sex­ual and re­pro­duc­tive health pro­grams and pro­tect­ing the rights of women re­mains the same,” Mon­sef said.

A 2013 re­port on the first phase of the pro­ject — a joint ef­fort be­tween Planned Par­ent­hood Ottawa and other com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions — pointed out how dif­fi­cult it was to sep­a­rate con­ver­sa­tions about re­pro­duc­tive rights from the greater po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural con­text.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, who has de­clared him­self a fem­i­nist, promised dur­ing the 2015 elec­tion cam­paign the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment would in­clude ac­cess to abor­tion within its ap­proach to in­ter­na­tional aid, and the Lib­er­als have lifted the Con­ser­va­tive ban on fund­ing fam­ily plan­ning projects, in­clud­ing those re­lated to the ter­mi­na­tion of preg­nan­cies.

That re­mains in place even as Trump re­cently signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der to en­force the so-called global gag rule that for­bids in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions re­ceiv­ing U.S. fund­ing from even men­tion­ing abor­tion.


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