You know what really grinds my gears? The fact that Stephen Harper, if elected this term, plans to cut government funding to Planned Parenthood, one of the world’s largest healthcare providers for vulnerable women. All this seems to be due to Harper’s zero tolerance for abortion. I know abortion is a sensitive subject and I’m not writing this to suggest that anyone should take my side and be pro-choice. I am, however, hoping to draw attention to the fact that this potential decision is absurd for several reasons.
Firstly, and most obviously, Stephen Harper is a man. He has never walked a mile in a woman’s shoes, let alone a pregnant woman’s shoes. He has never been a female victim in an abusive relationship, nor has he been raped and impregnated by a stranger. The lifesaving programs that Planned Parenthood currently runs, partially due to government funding, help 31 million Canadian women and children. Some of these women have been victims of horrible circumstance. Harper claims to have plans to invest money in a maternal health initiative. What!? Doesn’t this all seem a little backwards? Cutting funds for Planned Parenthood, which offers access to safe abortions, and announcing it “as part of a maternal health initiative is […], frankly, absurd,” says Human Rights Watch advocate, Marianne Mollmann.
Whatever your reason for using Planned Parenthood programs should be your business. A group of abortion rights activists are afraid of what might happen if Stephen Harper wins a majority government. International Planned Parenthood Federation was denied funding because they support abortion. It seems there are conflicting interests, here. What ever happened to the saying, “my body, my choice”? Given the multitudes of women out there who are unfit mothers, whether financially or mentally, why are they being denied the right to safe abortion? Abortion is, in fact, legal in Canada. While I full heartedly agree that abortion is something that should be taken very seriously and know that it is often abused as a form of contraception, completely removing access to vital programs would be devastating.
Maternal health includes reproductive health. Reproductive health includes safe access to abortion. Abortions will not stop if funding to Planned Parenthood is cut. Globally, 13 per cent of maternal deaths are caused by unsafe abortions. How can Harper claim to have maternal health interests at heart if he is cutting access to safe reproductive programs? Ultimately, I feel that this is one giant step backwards. Canada is internationally renowned for its forward-thinking laws, initiatives, and freedoms. If a Conservative government is elected and these cuts take place, Harper can rest assured that he’ll develop some new and vengeful enemies, myself included.