Thursday, 10 March 2016

Health Minister Philpott Blows a Dog Whistle

Health Minister Jane Philpott blew an anti-choice dog whistle on Tuesday. Did you catch it?
While pro-choice activists marched through Charlottetown's streets to protest the lack of abortion services on P.E.I., the issue received some attention in the House of Commons Tuesday.

It came in the form of a question from the NDP MP from Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Sheila Malcolmson, who said the service must be available to all Canadian women.


[Health Minister Jane Philpott] pointed out that abortion is not the only service not available across the country.

"There are inequities in access to a number of health services across the country, including abortion," she said.

"There should be access to all medically-necessary services on the basis of need and not on the basis of ability to pay. I will continue to work with my colleagues to make sure access is available to all Canadians."
Before I get to the dog whistle, let me address Philpott's assertion that other services are not available across the country. Yes, indeed, this is true. Smaller centres do not have the expensive equipment or trained specialists to carry out a number of procedures, like organ transplants, complicated surgeries, etc.

But abortion, especially the more than 90% done in the first trimester, requires no expensive equipment or extensive training. In fact, if a hospital or clinic can treat a miscarriage, it can perform abortions.

In PEI, the government inexplicably turned down a proposal to provide abortion services on the island that would have actually saved money.

So, the argument that abortion is in the same category as a coronary by-pass is a non-starter. And Minister Philpott is being disingenuous at the very least to suggest it is.

Back to the dog whistle. It's the "medically necessary" (with the grammatically unnecessary hyphen) bit.

"Medically necessary" appears just once in the Canada Health Act, under "interpretations".
hospital services means any of the following services provided to in-patients or out-patients at a hospital, if the services are medically necessary for the purpose of maintaining health, preventing disease or diagnosing or treating an injury, illness or disability, namely....
But google "medically necessary abortion" and you'll find a slew of fetus fetishist screeds like this one: "Abortion is Never Medically Necessary to Save a Mother's Life, This Case Shows Why."

If you haven't had a whanging headache in a while and feel the need, read the mental gymnastics fetus freaks perform around ectopic pregnancy or the totally unnecessary death from septic miscarriage of Savita Halappanavar, in order to maintain the fantasy that abortion is never medically necessary.

"Pregnancy/childbirth is not a disease!" they SHRIEEEEEK. No, but it has significant risks and, in fact, a higher mortality rate than abortion.

The phrase "medically necessary" from the mouth of the Liberal Health Minister is simply music to fetus freak ears.

It is used by provinces like PEI and New Brunswick to restrict funding of abortion. And, it sounds like Minister Philpott is going to continue to give them this wiggle room.

This is worrying, to say the least. Especially as Philpott herself is a bit conflicted on the issue. From a 2014 article on vetting Liberal candidates, here what she had to say about it:
“That’s where we need to clarify the nuance on it,” she said. “I can support the policy but abortion is not a great thing.”

Oh lard, that "nuancy" thing again.

When so-called progressives go nuancy on abortion, it does NOT bode well.

Here, by the way, is the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada's position paper (pdf) on "medically required abortion."

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