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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

G8 and the Maternal Health Initiative Commentary

I've said some, others have said more.
This was my contribution. For the record, the Globe and Mail was quite specific about me not using the word misogynist. They also edited out a lovely paragraph about how this decision was part of a larger pattern that worked against women. But here it is.

Yesterday and today, I've been reading about the Gates Foundation's plans. Even with the best education and family planning programs and the most effective contraception, there will always be unwanted and unintended pregnancies. I applaud the efforts she is making to reduce this as much as possible. Lots of people say some version of, "If we do everything else right, abortion won't be an issue anymore because no one will need it." Wish that this were so. Much as I admire and respect what the Gates' are doing, using the word abortion and making this part of the plan is still necessary.

Leaving out critical phrases like "safe abortion" and "family planning" is exactly what the Harper government did when they started the whole mess. But in their case, it was an attempt to obfuscate. Honestly, I still don't know if the Gates Foundation will fund safe abortion. That's the problem with not being explicit. Concerned parties were right to call the government on it, to make them be clear. And they were right to suspect that indeed, safe abortion would be excluded. And by the way, has family planning been specifically included yet? Or just not wiped off the table completely? In any case, it certainly has not been prioritized in any way. Another problem. But we are all distracted by the abortion debate. And why shouldn't we be? Abortion is a nexus issue, always has been, always will be. I'll take that up in some later post.

This is my favourite statement on the maternal health initiative from the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada. It pretty much sums everything up.

The other angle on the whole fiasco is how it has further illuminated the refusal of Mr. Harper and his government to tolerate opposition. Read Gerald Caplan on what is happening to agencies that speak against the government agenda. Yes, we WERE a nation of diversity and debate. Not any more. Well said Mr. Caplan.