Abortion funding criticized

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(Photo by Avery Gale)

This past Saturday individuals across over 40 political ridings gathered together in front of their respective MPP offices in support of their initiative to defund abortion from Ontario health care. The Campaign Life Coalition, a pro-life organization, spearheaded the rallies, arguing that abortions should not be funded by tax dollars because they believe the procedure to be medically unnecessary.

“Many people in Ontario are not aware that all abortions are fully funded by the taxpayer, whether they’re medically necessary or not. We’re just drawing awareness to the fact that this does cost money and tax dollars are scarce,” explained Alex Matan, a high school teacher and one of the main organizers of the rally held in Waterloo at the office of MPP Catherine Fife.

Matan went on to explain that he feels resources need to be allocated as efficiently as possible, and this is fundamentally the issue that he and fellow protesters have with the current system.

“As of last year, there’s a freedom of information act amendment, there was a whole breadth of amendments, but they put in one specific amendment now: that you can’t make freedom of information requests on abortions,” said Matan, “They’re the only medical procedure [that] you’re not allowed to ask questions about now.”

“In Canada you can have an abortion, up to and including, nine months,” added Ewelina Widerska, also a high school teacher and key organizer of Saturday’s rally. “Just like at Grand River [Hospital] they will do it up to 24 [weeks], then you have to go to a special clinic for later abortions.”

Widerska went on to explain that the purpose of motion 312, recently a controversial political issue, was to prevent very late abortions from happening.

Motion 312 was defeated by the House of Commons in a vote of 203 to 91 in late September. The bill was presented by Kitchener Centre MP Stephen Woodworth and had the support of Cabinet Ministers such as Jason Kenney and Rona Ambrose, despite Harper not getting involved.

“Harper has said he won’t reopen the debate, and I believe that it’s not a priority of his,” explained Peggy Cooke, a media spokesperson at the Abortion Rights Coalition Canada (ARCC). “In indirect ways, the Harper government has negatively affected access by defunding considerable numbers of women’s programs and organizations. Organizations that deal with particularly young women, aboriginal women and marginalized women.”

Cooke criticized Harper for being too slack and allowing other MPs to introduce backdoor legislation, which she suggested “are chipping away at abortion rights.”

These legal rights are of particular concern to young women, on both sides of the abortion debate and a critical point that is often raised is the fact that females under the age of 18 are permitted to get abortions without parental consent.

“There’s no guarantee that a parent would have the child’s best interest in mind,” justified Cooke. “Most clinics that operate on an explicitly pro-choice mandate are going to say, ‘for a woman or girl coming in, at any age, the body is hers and her decision.’”

Cooke concluded by saying that it would be in the best interest of young females not to have law mandating parental involvement, simply because it would be, “Erring on the side of caution.”

By Ravi Balakrishnan

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