by David Beking
In recent news, Stephen Harper has been preparing for the G8 summit coming up in the Muskokas and has made improving maternal and infant health in developing countries one of the topics for discussion. As one of the millenium development goals set by the UN, maternal and infant health is an important topic that needs to be addressed. In response to Harper’s plan, Michael Ignatieff – liberal opposition leader – stated that abortion rights must be included in any Canadian plan to improve infant and maternal health in the developing world. This came as a shock to many in the connection Ignatieff made between maternal/infant health and abortion. As Bishop Henry states in the first article below, “I thought it was pathetic for a political leader to suggest that abortion is somehow tied to the health of women and children”.
In response to this statement from Ignatieff many religious leaders and journalists responded in opposition, most notably David Warren from the Ottawa Citizen. As stated below in his article Warren advocates that “Women do not give birth to cats” and that abortion can’t be considered anything but the slaughter of an innocent human beings. If maternal health is a concern, the method to deal with that health issue is not murder.
In Canada there exists no law about abortion. The supreme court struck down the abortion laws in 1988 (R. v. Morgantaler) to allow for the protection of mothers in extremely rare circumstances where their life is at risk. However, only 5% of abortions preformed today are conducted for that reason. The other 95% of those aborted have been performed against section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom which states, among other rights, that everyone has the right to life. If Ignatieff believes that we have been successful in improving maternal and infant care in Canada, abortion has not been one of the factors in this improvement. The issue of infant health will not be solved by ending their lives, but instead through public health improvements and better health care for pregnant women as proposed by Stephen Harper. As Warren puts it so well in his article “Killing a baby in no way improves its health”.