Liberals insist Canada follow American abortion policy

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (left) urged Canada to include abortion as part of maternal health. CLC national organizer Mary Ellen Douglas (right) says Clinton should not impose her pro-abortion position on other countries.

One week after a Liberal motion calling upon the federal government to provide for “the full range of reproductive options” in its international maternal and infant health initiative, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted that maternal health includes abortion and contraception during a visit to Canada.

During a meeting of G8 foreign ministers in Gatineau, Quebec on March 29, Clinton called upon the Conservative government to include abortion and contraception as part of the maternal health initiative it will bring forward at the G8 summit in Huntsville, Ont., in June. Clinton told the media: “You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health and reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortions.” She also called for Canada to extend its commitment in Afghanistan.

Mary Ellen Douglas, national organizer for Campaign Life Coalition, was outraged at Clinton’s interference, telling “How dare she stick her pro-abortion nose into Canadian politics. Hasn’t she done enough damage to the unborn in the U.S.?”

MP Brad Trost (Con., Saskatoon-Humboldt) criticized Clinton for poking “her nose in areas that are not her business.” He said, “Canada can make up its own mind on what its policy is on maternal health care and how we define it.”

Marie Smith, director of the U.S.-based Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues, said “Clinton is revealing to the world that a pro-abortion ideology at the highest levels of the U.S. government has hijacked the noble goal of reducing maternal deaths by re-defining maternal health to include access to abortion.” Clinton made it clear that the Obama administration not only considers abortion part of maternal health but has implemented policies and funding based on that understanding.

Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes said, “Hillary Clinton is merely trying to force her own pro-abortion agenda onto the world stage as she attempts to influence G-8 leaders and oppose Canada’s position.” He labeled her position “morally bankrupt.”

But pro-abortion Liberals welcomed Clinton’s remarks. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff praised Clinton’s “admirable” comments and reiterated his position that the government should reverse course and make abortion an integral part of its maternal health program. “I just think that a G8 country like Canada should get up and be clear,” Ignateiff said. “Hillary Clinton was admirably clear about what the international consensus on maternal health is. It’s what we’ve been saying, it’s what G8 countries have been saying.”

Pressed by reporters about abortion funding before Clinton’s visit to Canada, Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, stated, “We are not closing any options … We are not ruling out any options.” After originally saying abortion and contraception were not part of their maternal health program, the government later capitulated to opposition party and NGO criticism and permitted contraception, although Prime Minister Stephen Harper whipped the vote to oppose the Liberal Party’s pro-abortion motion on March 23.

Hughes says that the lack of clarity is not helping save the lives of mothers and infants in the developing world, but has applauded the government’s focus on providing clean water, nutrition, inoculations, and safe deliveries. “Killing babies does not help mothers and it certainly isn’t infant care,” Hughes told The Interim. “The focus on genuine needs to alleviate suffering, hunger and unsafe medical care is the right direction and we hope the government maintains this focus in their admirable effort to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates around the globe.”

A background report from the pro-abortion, pro-population control Action Canada for Population and Development, dated March 17, urged non-government organizations and other interested parties to arrange meetings with various government foreign affairs representatives to press the case for abortion and contraception at the G8 meeting in Gatineau March 29-30 and other international gatherings. Hughes said that ACPD may have been effective in calling upon abortion advocates to conscript Hillary Clinton into Canada’s domestic policy debates over international development.

Asked by reporters about Clinton’s comments, Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae said that Canada’s Conservative government is unable “to fashion a serious consensus either with the Europeans or with the Americans” because of Harper’s ideological rigidity. Rae, who introduced the March 23 pro-abortion motion, went on to criticize Harper for being “out of step with most other countries in the world” on abortion and maternal health. When a reporter asked if Clinton’s statement added “extra weight” to the Liberal position of pushing abortion as part of maternal health, Rae replied “of course” it did.

But when asked if Canada should follow Clinton’s advice and stay in Afghanistan past the 2012 deadline Harper has set for withdrawal from combat engagement, Rae’s answer was “of course not.”