Catholic Group Criticizes PM’s Family Planning Initiative
The Canadian government’s stance on family planning has come under fire again. This time from Catholics.
On Tuesday, a group of pro-choice Catholics penned an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper urging him to “reconsider” his government’s decision to exclude family planning from the G8 initiative on maternal and child health.
“Historically Canada has played a leading role in the campaign to improve the reproductive health of women around the world,” stated the letter. It was signed by the president of Washington, D.C.-based Catholics for Choice, Jon O’Brien and Rosemary Ganley, the Canadian branch’s coordinator.
“Maternal mortality can be alleviated through wide access to comprehensive reproductive health care services. It is a basic human right and a matter of social justice to provide women and men access to family planning and abortion services and information to prevent unplanned and high risk pregnancies.”
Harper has pledged to make the issue of improving maternal and child health in developing countries a focus of the upcoming G8 summit in Huntsville, Ont. in June. While he’s said contraception would be a part of that, the government has been vague and sometimes dismissive about the issue of abortion.
That has sparked a heated political debate in Canada among the parties, and has even drawn the ire of the United States.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said any measures to improve maternal health must include contraception and abortion.
“You cannot have maternal health without reproductive rights,” she said at a news conference of a G8 foreign ministers’ meeting in Gatineau, Que. “And reproductive health includes contraception, and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion.”
This article originally appeared in the Toronto Sun.