Harper’s “Maternal Health Program” not about maternal health?

Harper’s administration made headlines last week for announcing it intends to cut funding from any international NGO that provides access to safe abortions.  So far, there hasn’t been much analysis of how much funding we’re talking about, or what the impact will be, or where that budget is going to go instead.

Thanks to Olivia Ward at the Star, we can begin to get an inkling of the implications:

In London, International Planned Parenthood Federation is waiting for a call from Canada that will preserve life-saving programs that help 31 million women and children.

But nearly a year after the U.K.-based organization tried to renew its $18 million grant – and on the eve of a G20 summit Harper has focused on maternal health — the line from Ottawa is silent…

Planned Parenthood includes abortion in its wide range of services to needy women and girls in 174 countries…

Canada supplies a significant part of Planned Parenthood’s $120 million annual budget

If Canada provides 15% of the total budget, we can probably expect a corresponding decline in the total number of women and children who once were assisted by this organization but will have no access to family planning information or services once Planned Parenthood pulls up stakes. So, four and a half million women and children may lose access to essential reproductive health services as a direct result of Harper’s benighted foreign policy decision.

That is only the result of de-funding one organization.  How many women’s health NGOs can we expect to feel the pinch?  My guess:  all of them.  As CEO of Marie Stopes Int’l  points out, “You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health and (that) includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortions.”

Which begs the question, where is all that money going to go now?

I bet I know.

PRIESTS FOR LIFE, CANADA

Harper has not been shy about funneling millions of your tax dollars and mine to domestic evangelical groups while giving prominent, internationally respected secular organizations the axe.  I’m guessing Harper’s “Maternal Health Program” is a massive transfer of tens of millions of dollars of funds once earmarked for “maternal health” to international evangelical groups which have absolutely no interest in anything that is of interest to women, let alone maternal health.

In the same vein, I am very much looking forward to acquiring a copy of The Armageddon Factor:  the Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, which has Harper’s religious fan-base bursting blood vessels of indignation.  (Now that’s what I like to see!)

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