Women’s health debated
On Feb. 6 Kitchener Centre MP Stephen Woodworth filed a motion with the clerk of the House of Commons asking Parliament to look over the Canadian definition of what it means to be a human being in an attempt to reignite the abortion debate and change abortion regulations in Canada.
Also recently, Ontario’s health minister Deb Matthews was considering removing abortions from Ontario Health Insurance Plan coverage, but decided that they should not de-fund abortion. According to Joyce Arthur, executive director for Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, all provinces and territories have deemed abortion to be a medically required service.
Therefore, it must be funded under the Canada Health Act regardless of whether it’s preformed in hospitals or clinics.
However, Alissa Golobe, youth co-ordinator for Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) said that, “Under our Canada Health Act it states that procedures that should be covered are ones that are medically necessary for the purpose for maintaining health, preventing disease or diagnosing or treating an injury.
“Pregnancy isn’t a disease, illness or an injury,” Golobe continued. “And it doesn’t improve health. There’s a study that has come out that shows it does quite the opposite. It disrupts the normal psychological process as well as ends the life of a developing child.”
On the other hand, Arthur commented that, “[Women would have] been waiting and saving up money for the abortion while they’re still pregnant and the medical risk increases, not to mention the psychological distress [increases] the longer that you wait.
“So it actually affects women’s health and lives if you force them to wait or put obstacles in her way- obstacles that have nothing to do with her own health.”
For years the topic of abortion has been a complicated and controversial issue for people around the world.
Arguments for pro life as well as pro choice abound, especially when there is rumour that those holding political power might re-open the proverbial can of worms.
However, some activist groups, such as the CLC, are beginning to voice their ideals a little more strongly now that the provincial government announced they will be reviewing the limitations and revisions for OHIP.
The CLC is urging Matthews to delist elective abortions as part of Ontario’s action plan on health funding. “Petitions have come out against the statement that abortions are medically necessary,” Golobe explained. “They’re also elective, which means that people don’t need to have abortions to save their lives.”
“The Gatmacker institute,the research arm of planned parenthood (which is the largest abortion provider in North America) their statistics say that 98 per cent of abortions are done for reasons of convenience,” she continued.
“So the person’s young or they don’t want another child. So it’s very rarely a case where the mother’s life is in danger. Barely ever.”
“As soon as you start restricting abortion, some women are going to start falling through the cracks,” Arthur countered.
“Or [they might] turn to self abortion like they have in Prince Edward Island, we’ve heard.
“As soon as you start making abortion hard to access, especially for poor women, that’s a risk for women’s health. What we should be doing to improve outcomes and so on is make that access easier and faster. Not funding abortion can have all other kinds of bad effects.”
The CLC has done various things to support their cause, such as hosting de-fund abortion rallies, petitions as well as a de-fund abortion pamphletting blitz where over 150 people from across the province delivered over 20,000 pamphlets to various ridings across the province.
“I know that this is very successful based on the feedback I’ve received from MPPs and people receiving the pamphlets,” Golobe said. “So that was just the beginning, and we will continue with picketing or whatever we have to do to keep this issue in the forefront.”
“In terms of what they’re trying to do in de-funding abortion,” Arthur said, “They’re not going to succeed. There’s too many obstacles to overcome.”
Ontario plans to reduce the number of health services covered by medicare as the Liberal government looks to cut costs and trim a $16-billion deficit. “The anti-choice [campaigns] are complaining about the amount of money we spend on abortions.
“Well that’s a tiny drop in the bucket compared to what we spend on child birth and pre- and post-natal care — which is all extremely important, but abortion is cost-effective compared to if we were going to bring all those unwanted pregnancies to term.
“That would cost a hell of a lot more, not to mention the social cost of forcing women to have babies and having unwanted children.”
Currently, neither Prime Minister Stephen Harper nor Matthews plan to re-open the abortion debate.