This is not really news. The Globe and Mail reports:

Despite its refusal to consider abortion in its maternal-health plan, the Harper government has given financial support to an international agency that provides abortion illegally in some African countries.

A number of things to clarify.

I’m not crazy about the fact that Canada funds abortion abroad, but there is no hypocrisy in not including abortion as part of maternal health whilst paying for abortion as part of other foreign aid programs. Abortion is not maternal health, not part of the priorities of reducing the number of maternal and infant deaths.

There are obviously problems with working with and financially supporting an organization that provides illegal abortion — do Canadians want their government to fund an organization that is actively breaking the laws of other countries in which it operates? — but there is no evidence in the article that the Canadian government is paying for illegal abortions. The Globe insinuates this might be the case in the headline, “Ottawa aid helps fund agency that provides illegal abortions in Africa,” but it is never mentioned in the story. I still have issues with Ottawa funding such groups because money is fungible, but that is not a violation of any existing Canadian law or program, nor does it violate the spirit of the maternal health program. I hope that the government ceases funding such groups by adopting a foreign aid program similar to the Mexico City Policy, but no such policy exists. Again, the implication of hypocrisy doesn’t hold.

There is no way to confirm if the Globe story is true. The agency that the government funds doesn’t want their name mentioned because they are involved in illegal abortions. The country is not mentioned either, to further protect the agency. Very dubious, indeed.

While this article doesn’t get into it, other Canadian foreign aid programs do fund legal abortion projects. Again, it would be great if this were not the case.