In mid March Canadian government officials said that their initiative to help save lives of women and children in developing countries will not include family planning supplies or any similar services.
According to an article in the Feminist Majority Foundation, Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said that Canada’s plan “does not deal in any way, shape or form with family planning.” The article said that there is speculation that government leaders are avoiding family planning and abortion issues in order to please all political sides.
International Co-operation Minister, Bev Oda, said Canada has chosen to focus on the lives of women and children by concentrating on providing clean water, vaccinations, better nutrition, and the training of health care workers.
When recently questioned about family planning in the initiative, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that the initiative’s only focus would be “saving lives.” Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff compared the proposed initiative to the United States "gag rule", which cut off funding for groups that provided family planning or abortion services in developing countries. The gag rule was repealed by President Obama in 2009.
Executive Director of Action Canada for Population and Development Katherine McDonald stated, “I’m very concerned that they’re equating family planning with abortion.” She believes that maternal health efforts will fail unless women are able to put space between their pregnancies; which would prevent maternal mortality caused by too many consecutive pregnancies.
The Feminist Majority Foundation fact sheet states that 215 million women across the globe either wish to delay or prevent pregnancy, but do not have access to contraceptives. Another 529,000 women and girls die each year from complications of pregnancy and giving birth, and 70,000 die from unsafe abortions in developing countries.
It just so happens that the Canadian International Development Agency stopped providing funds for the International Planned Parenthood Federation in December.