For the past four days there have been “news” reports that Stephen Harper’s government is not going to fund abortion as part of its proposed G8 maternal health initiative although it has indicated other countries can pony up for abortion if they want. At some point this really isn’t news anymore but regurgitation masquerading as journalism. Yesterday, the Globe and Mail reported on the Liberal reaction to this policy. Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae said:
“I am trying to understand the government’s position … In Congo, women of 15 and 16 have been raped in the thousands. … Rape is a tool of abuse and a brutality that is a matter of fact in many parts of the world, including Africa, which this government has abandoned. Is it the policy of the government of Canada that those young women will not have access to abortions after they’ve been raped? Is that the position of the government of Canada?”
What Rae is ignoring — or too stupid to realize — is that government’s initiative is narrowly designed to decrease maternal and infant mortality. It has nothing to say about the availability of abortion abroad for any reason. For some reason Rae wants to talk about abortion while Harperand his government want to focus on maternal care. The most charitable explanation is that Rae is conflating women’s health and maternal health (although I’m unwilling to concede that abortion is part of either), but to the Liberal foreign affairs critic the two seem to be interchangeable.
Not to be outdone in the stupidity department, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said:
“You simply cannot promote reproductive health for women unless you respect a women’s right to choose and unless you include access to safe and legal abortion … How is it acceptable to have one policy at home for Canada and another abroad?”
This is a fallacious argument. What is available at home does not need to be offered to foreign countries. Take this logic to the extreme and we should be providing the full extent of what the Canadian health care system, drug industry and food distribution has to offer at home to people in the developing world, but that isn’t what foreign aid does. Taken further down this path of applying Canadian “policy” to Canadian aid recipients and we should conclude that Canada should offer foreign aid recipients the right to vote in Canadian elections and subject them to Canadian criminal law. After all, if these policies are good enough for Canadians, we must provide them to everyone in the world.