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Family Planning Will Not Be Included In Canada’s G8 Maternal Health Initiative, Foreign Minister Says

“Canada’s ‘signature’ initiative at June’s G8 summit – a strategy to improve the health of mothers and young children in poor countries” will not include family planning programs, Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said on Tuesday, the Globe and Mail reports. Cannon said the initiative “does not deal in any way, shape or form with family planning. Indeed, the purpose of this is to be able to save lives.”

According to the newspaper, “Cannon’s statements distressed those who had hoped for some flexibility” with the plan, even though the government had hinted that it might not include family planning provisions.

“Maternal-health advocates worry that the government’s desire to steer clear of the abortion issue – and therefore not upset part of its political base – is also pushing it to rule out all other family-planning programs, like distributing contraceptives,” the Globe and Mail writes. “I’m very concerned that they’re equating family planning with abortion,” said Katherine McDonald, executive director of Action Canada for Population and Development.

The Globe and Mail writes: “Many organizations opposed to abortion still see family planning as a key method to reducing childbirth deaths – a key goal of [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper’s initiative. Teen mothers and those who become pregnant quickly after previous births are at much higher risk.” The article includes quotes from other family planning advocates (Clark, 3/17).