The Canadian delegation to the UN-sponsored International Conference on Population, which took place in Mexico City early in August, adopted a pro-abortion position. In contrast to wide-ranging publicity and debate given to the US policy against funding abortion, the Canadian people were kept completely in the dark – not only as to what kind of policy had been adopted but also as to members of the delegation itself.

The secrecy surrounding the six months of private consultation to shape government policy for the conference was deliberate, according to Peter Calami of the Southam News Service. In an article in the Hamilton Spectator on August 4, 1984, he said “A source involved in the Canadian planning said the secretive approach was deliberately chosen to freeze out the pro-life lobby. That lobby had nothing to contribute to the debate about population policy and would only create controversy, the source said.”

Pro-life kept out

Although the pro-life lobby was deliberately kept out, Planned Parenthood was well represented. Dr. Tom Roulston, a Winnipeg obstetrician, former vice-president of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), is chairman of the Canadian Population Task Force. The task force was involved in policy planning and Dr. Roulston was one of 11 advisors on the Canadian contingent to Mexico City. He told Mr. Calami that “apparent government disinterest in the population conference sparked a lobby effort this past winter by representatives from various public interest groups. No representatives  from pro-life groups were invited, he said, because it was not a family planning gathering.”

Another Canadian, George Cadbury from Oakville, who was IPPF chairman for 15 years and one of the founders of Planned Parenthood Toronto, was also quoted in the Spectator story as saying that pro-lifers were excluded from the task force because “they’re not serious students of population questions.”

Karen Murawsky, vice-president of Alliance for Life, attended the Mexico City conference as an observer. She tried to get information from Ottawa for over six months as to planning meetings, the eventual policy arrived at and the people selected as delegates. Mrs. Murasky got nowhere with her inquiries and her request that pro-life views be heard by the policy planners was completely rejected.

The 14-member Canadian delegation was headed by Liberal Senator, Lorna Marsden. She was a last-minute substitute for the retiring Health Minister, Monique Begin. Ms. Marsden, who is a former president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC), heads the Liberal Party’s policy committee and supports the current abortion laws.

In her address to the conference, Ms. Marsden distanced Canada from the US position that economic policy, rather than family planning, is the solution to population pressures. In an article in the Globe and Mail, August 8, 1984, she is quoted as saying, “We do not believe that economic policy in and of itself can resolve population problems.” Later on, she stated that Canada “leaves decisions on (family) planning to recipient countries,” an apparent reference to the US policy which now refuses to fund “family planning” programmes which include abortion.

Ms. Marsden stated that Canada’s current contribution to international family planning prgrammes is $36.3 million-up from $8.2 million decade ago.  How much of this funding goes to promote and pay for abortion is unquantifiable.

It is however, possible to identify the amount of support given to IPPF and the UN Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), both agencies are strong promoters and supporters of abortion, through the federal Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). IN 1982/83, IPPF received $5.4 million through CIDA-a fifty percent increase over the 1980/81 support of $3.6 million. In 1982/83, UNFPA received $9.5 million-up from $7.0 million in 1980/81.

The Canadian support for abortion as an acceptable means to limit population growth is in sharp contrast to the policy presented by both the US and Vatican delegations.

“Population control” is big business

As reported in the August Interim the US policy paper states that “the United States does not consider abortion an acceptable element of family planning programmes and will no longer contribute to those of which it is a part.”

Immediately affected by the policy is IPPF which will lose its current $11 million a year in US foreign, aid, unless it drops its abortion promoting activities. It is not clear at the moment whether the UNFPA will forfeit US aid (this year, it received $38 million, one-fourth of its total budget).

The policy paper says the UNFPA must provide “concrete assurances” that it does not fund abortions or coercive family planning programmes. UNFPA has provided $50 million in grants to China for its population control programmes which include forced abortions. However, UNFPA officials insist that funds are only given to specific parts of programme which do not include abortions.

The Vatican statement condemned the use of contraception, abortion and sterilization population control programmes. MSGR. Jan Schotte stated that “The experience and trends of recent years cleverly emphasized the profoundly negative effects of contraceptive programmes.” He pointed out that these programmes have led to “increased sexual permissiveness and irresponsible conduct with grave consequences for the education of youths and the dignity of women.” The Vatican also opposed distribution of contraceptives to adolescents as “a violation of the very notion of responsible parenthood and family planning.”