A stunning declaration was made by a Conservative MP running for re-election over the weekend, the Toronto Star reported: that thanks to lobbying by MPs and petitions from pro-life groups, the Harper Government has quietly decided to stop providing any funding to Planned Parenthood.
The remarks were made during a speech by Brad Trost, Conservative Party of Canada incumbent for Saskatoon-Humboldt, to the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association’s Annual Meeting on Saturday. Trost claimed that petitions and other measures undertaken by pro-life groups had a significant impact on the Government’s decision to deny the funding to the International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF), speaking as if the decision was a done deal. The Liberal Party of Canada obtained an audio copy of the speech which they then forwarded to the Toronto Star and Le Devoir. Trost himself had launched a petition to deny funding to the IPPF in 2009, stating that the IPPF “promotes the establishment of abortion as an international human right and lobbies aggressively to impose permissive abortion laws on developing nations.“
The IPPF provides a wide range of health and reproductive care services such as access to birth control, education, screening, prenatal care as well as abortion. Denying funding to a widely respected international organization that provides these services would fly in the face of Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s Maternal Health Initative. When the initiative was announced, Harper hoped to win favour with Canadians by helping women in need across the world. Instead, he came under fire for not including abortion as a legitimate health care requirement in the developing world, and for appearing to stand for a different policy at home vs abroad.
According to the Toronto Star, IPPF has not been notified of the decision to deny them funding, ending a relationship that has gone back for decades. Instead, they have been met with stony silence for over a year from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), who has been accused of making funding decisions based on ideology and political pressure rather than sound public policy before.
With this disturbing revelation, it has to be asked: What is the Conservative Party of Canada’s true goal when it comes to abortion and women’s rights? If they truly believe that cutting funding to Planned Parenthood is what Canadians want, why delay and hide the decision for over a year? And if it’s perfectly OK to deny access to health care services in the developing world simply because they offer safe and legal abortion as an option to those who need it, will their next target be access to safe and legal abortion in Canada?
Department for International Development on Flickr