Sorry, no comment. That’s just about all The Interim was told when attempting to speak with Alberta and British Columbia health ministers about de-funding abortion as pro-lifers in those provinces seek to have abortion de-listed as an insurable medical procedure.

As evidenced by the failure to reply by Alberta Health and Wellness Minister Gary Mar and B.C. Health Planning Minister Sindi Hawkins, de-funding abortion is an issue that politicians would rather not address. The Interim talked to health ministry spokesmen in both Alberta and B.C. and neither would field questions on the issue.

Not that all is lost. Alberta’s health minister has pronounced the establishment of an “expert advisory panel” to study different options in regard to changing health plans and he intends to make recommendations this coming fall.

Although debates on de-funding abortion have been on-again off-again for many years, pro-lifers in Alberta and B.C. now feel there is a decent chance of change this time around.

Campaign Life Coalition B.C. president John Hof told The Interim they will be raising the issue wherever possible in order to convince the government “to wake-up, smell the roses and save $5 to $6 million a years by not paying for killing babies.”

Pro-life activists see Canadians’ concerns over healthcare – not enough money to take care of all our healthcare needs – as an opportunity to argue that spending on abortion is limiting access to other, more legitimate healthcare services.

It only makes sense to have abortion funding struck from healthcare plans and the public seems to agree. In a 1991 referendum, 63 per cent of Saskatchewan citizens voted in favor of de-funding abortion. A 1995 Alberta poll found that 82 per cent of Albertans no longer fancy funding abortion through tax dollars. The same can be said for 73 per cent of Ontarians who expressed a desire for de-funding abortion in a 1998 poll.

B.C. Liberals are striving to discover new tactics to bring health care costs under control and Hof noted that the government should look at what procedures are currently funded, including abortion, and make its decision from there. Hof explained that B.C. Liberals have already chopped Pharmacare coverage, de-insured eye examinations, and have put in place spending control that has caused the closing of some hospitals.

“They have certainly begun removing all sorts of procedures from the medical service plan including chiropractic care and naturopathic medicine,” said Hof. “They are all being removed, because, oh they’re an operation of choice and I’m sure there’s a better case for getting your back fixed by a chiropractor than having your baby killed by an abortionist.”

Seven years ago, Alberta Pro-Life launched an ultimately unsuccessful campaign to de-fund abortion, but the organization hopes it will be different this time. Alberta Pro-Life is distributing pamphlets, which contradict the fairy tale of abortion advocates that the courts have mandated government funding of abortion. Another APL pamphlet deals primarily with the de-funding issue.

“This is an opportunity to raise the issue and continue to raise it,” executive director of Alberta Pro-Life Patty Nixon told The Interim.

Pro-lifers know that this will not be an easy fight. B.C. Health Minister Colin Hansen states the Liberals have no intent to break their promise to pro-abortionists made in last year’s provincial election to not affect the status quo on abortion.