Friday, 19 February 2010

No Family Planning, No Contraception, No Abortion = Maternal Health, Public Version

What was behind the subscription wall at Embassy Magazine is now publicly available.

That great friend of women and limousine-hopper, Bev Oda confirms: No abortion or contraception for developing countries because our fundy base wouldn't like it, unless the racists thought about it and then they might.
The federal government won’t add contraception and abortion to a package of initiatives aimed at improving women and children’s health despite pleas from the Opposition to include the practices.

International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda said Thursday that Ottawa isn’t changing its policy on what measures will be part of a major initiative with G8 countries to improve the lot of women and children in the world’s poorest countries.

“Canada is not currently going to be changing its approach to improving maternal and infant health,” Ms. Oda said in Halifax, where she announced the port city will host a G8 development ministers meeting in April.

Ah, but, you see, that's a great big porky pie. Canada -- under the ReformaTories -- is changing 30 years of foreign aid policy that, in consultation with the receiving country of course, did include the full range of reproductive services for women and men.

Now, have a gander at this swerve:
“The Prime Minister has been clear since we became government that there’s no intention on regenerating any debate on abortion.”

That is true -- but only for Canada. And he had to say that when Ken Epp's private member's bill, aka the Kicking Abortion's Ass Bill, was about to bite the Cons on the butt before it was tossed under the bus just before the last -- or was it the one before that? I'm losing count here -- election.

(Read the comments at the Globe link -- over 450 when I was there. Just about universally appalled.)

Now, go read Joyce Arthur who has a slew of facty-truthy thingies about how hellyeah access to safe abortion is an integral part of maternal health.
Conservative politicians and commentators have heaped scorn on Ignatieff's concerns, however, and condemned him for turning women's health into a "political football." But most of the politicking is actually coming from Ignatieff's critics, who have launched attacks without the benefit of any facts, and even less compassion for women. Some of the coverage is so shockingly ignorant that it qualifies as being misogynist. Please, if we are going to have this discussion — and we should — please, let's pay attention to some key facts:

* 19-20 million women in developing countries resort to unsafe (usually illegal) abortions every year. 98% of unsafe abortions occur in countries with restrictive abortion laws (generally archaic laws passed by former colonial powers). There are 42 million abortions a year in total.

* 68,000 women die every year from unsafe abortion. 8 million women experience complications serious enough to require treatment. Of those, 3 million never receive medical treatment.

* Thirteen percent of all pregnancy-related deaths are due to unsafe abortion.

* Unsafe abortion is the only cause of maternal mortality that is entirely preventable.

* The highest abortion rates in the world are generally in developing countries with strict criminal laws against abortion. Laws don't stop abortion; they only drive it underground and make it dangerous. (Abortion rates are lower and have been declining in countries where it is legal and widely available.)

* 220,000 children worldwide lose their mothers every year from abortion-related deaths. (Most women in the developing world who have abortions are married with children.)

* When a pregnant woman dies from unsafe abortion, her existing children are 10 times more likely to die within the next two years.

* 215 million women in the developing world have an unmet need for modern contraceptives (meaning they want to avoid a pregnancy but are using an ineffective family planning method or no method).

* Lack of contraception contributes to high rates of unintended pregnancy, which in turn contributes significantly to the maternal death rate. That's because childbirth is dangerous in many developing countries. For example, the lifetime risk of maternal death is 1 in 17 in West and Central Africa, and 1 in 8000 in industrialized countries.

* Additional consequences of unsafe abortion include loss of productivity, economic burden on public health systems, stigma, and long-term health problems like infertility.

* The costs of treating the 5 million women who are hospitalized every year after unsafe abortion is at least $460 million. In Africa, complications of abortion account for 30 to 50 percent of maternal deaths, and hospitals' maternity wards and budgets are often largely diverted to treating these complications.

* Safe legal abortion saves women's lives. Without exception, every country that has legalized abortion has seen dramatic decreases in deaths and serious complications due to unsafe abortion. In western industrialized countries, death from unsafe abortion has been virtually eliminated.

Let's hear from somebody else who knows a thing or two, Keith Martin.
Liberal MP Keith Martin, a doctor who is an expert on the sorry state of maternal health around the world, is one of those supporters. Martin has travelled to Africa dozens of times, and worked there as a doctor several times. He has also been involved in previous attempts to get the G8 to take strong action on improving maternal mortality. He has chaired pre-G8 summits on international health, including maternal and childhood mortality.

Martin says the federal government must articulate exactly what it is going to do when it comes to the G8 maternal health initiative and access to reproductive technology. "I hope they don't take an ideological position."

Harper will be "turning back the clock," Martin says, if the initiative does not include reproductive health: "I can't think of another country that would take that position."

Yeah, well, the Excited States went down that foreign policy abstinence only and screw people vulnerable to AIDS road under the influence of their ChristoTalibaners. And now Motherhood Steve is taking up that slack now that grown-ups are in charge in Washington.

So, I say again: Yo, Iggy, Jack! Ride this horsey!


Cari said...

Ah, but the Catholic vote will go to Harper and not Jack and Michael..the Catholic church is taking a fit, so it is not hard to figure it out...a great many are in Quebec.

fern hill said...

The Catlick Church is always taking a fit. Fttt!

I think you are misinformed, Cari. Quebec is the most pro-choice province. The days of blindly doing what the priest says are, thankfully, loooong over.

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