Canadian Government Says Canada’s G8 Maternal, Child Health Plan Will Not Include Abortion

Canada on Monday at a meeting of G8 development ministers in Halifax, Canada, said its maternal and child health initiative, which is expected to be a “centerpiece issue” at the G8 summit in late June, will not include funding for abortion, the Associated Press/Washington Post (Gillies, 4/26).

“Canada’s contribution to maternal and child health may involve various interventions, including family planning, which includes the use of contraceptive methods. The details remain to be determined; however, Canada’s contribution will not include funding of abortions,” said Bev Oda, Canada’s federal minister of international co-operation, the Toronto Star reports (Delacourt, 4/26).

Oda said, “We’re not debating abortion; we’re clarifying family planning,” according to CBC News (4/26).

“The government of Canada agrees with the internationally-accepted definition of family planning, as agreed to by the World Health Organization, UN and G8 development agencies,” she said, Canwest News Service/Vancouver Sun reports. “This includes a woman’s ability to space and limit her pregnancies, which has a direct impact on her health and well-being, as well as on the outcome of each pregnancy,” Oda added.

Oda’s announcement is “the clearest statement yet on the government’s position on the issue — a position which the government has appeared to modify several times in the face of opposition from domestic political opponents, as well as international allies,” according to the news service (Akin/Fitzpatrick, 4/26).

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last month, “you cannot have maternal health without reproductive health and reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortions,” the AP/Washington Post writes (4/26).

Oxfam Report:  Rich Countries Must Increase, Reform Foreign Aid

Wealthy countries must increase their spending on foreign aid while reforming foreign aid programs, according to a new Oxfam International report, which was released to coincide with this week’s meeting of G8 development ministers, Canwest News Service/Montreal Gazette reports.

“Oxfam, an independent aid agency, says rich nations must drastically increase funding to maternal health care and many other social and economic aid projects. In 1970, developed countries agreed through the United Nations to spend 0.7 per cent of their gross national income on foreign aid. Oxfam says that since 2008 only Denmark, Luxembourg, Holland, Norway and Sweden have met that goal, and that the global shortfall in aid commitments now amounts to about $3 trillion U.S.”

According to the report, “Aid is touched by corruption … (and) aid dependency is an issue that needs attention.” 
The organization recommends that aid go directly to governments in developing countries and that donors establish stringent standards for ensuring the money is used for health, agriculture and other public services (Foot, 4/26).

“Good aid really does work when it’s not tied to trade, when it’s not about militarization, when it isn’t about the goals of the donor country,” Karen Palmer, an Oxfam spokesperson, Xinhua reports (Adeba, 4/26).

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