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OP/ED: Abortion policy all wrong

I cannot believe that the Conservative government is refusing to include access to contraceptives and safe abortions as part of their pledge of working towards improving maternal health worldwide at this year’s G8 summit in June.

It's beyond my comprehension how it is possible to improve maternal health unless you are willing to include the full range of reproductive health services for women.

This does not mean that we are going into foreign countries and demanding that women have abortions against their will or even to change foreign rules concerning abortion; it means that we provide safe alternatives to the back-alley abortionist and educate women on what their options really are .... without added religious propaganda espousing the evils of abortion and birth control.

There is no scientific or non-religious reasoning as to why abortion should not be included in the maternal health initiative and, in my opinion, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is basing this refusal on his own irrational, ideological beliefs.

I believe this it is because Harper is a member of the East Gate Alliance Church, part of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, a denomination with about 400,000 members that believe in the literal word of the Bible (yes, that apparently means he believes the world was created in seven days), faith healing (yes, it seems that means prayer can heal you ... if you are worthy) and the imminent return of Jesus Christ. Women cannot be ordained in his church, homosexuality is a sin and abortion is murder. Many fear the PM is taking a cue from the Bush administration and is mobilizing Canada’s 3.5 million evangelicals, along with 44 per cent of Canadians who say they have committed themselves to Christ, as a power base. Harper has methodically knitted a coalition of social conservatives and evangelicals that looks ominously similar to the American neo-conservative model.

The moment at which we completely obtain our humanity and our ability to suffer remains a question of debate, but anyone who would unbendingly persist in insisting these qualities must occur instantaneously with the second of conception, has nothing to add to this question except for his ignorance. I f you ask me, the moral reality here is apparent … anyone who feels that the well-being of a 30-day-old fetus just might surpass the welfare of an adult woman in need of an abortion (and, by extension, the millions of women around the world trying to survive in supressive, even gender-abusive, societies) has had his moral sense impeded by religious dogmatism.

Harper is deeply, even dangerously, misguided in this decision, because this is not a question of religious ideology but one of improving women’s maternal health worldwide - an important feature of which would be to provide women with safe options that would prevent about 500,000 deaths per year.

I don’t think Harper’s initiative will improve maternal heath and, in fact, it will only succeed to impede any progress that could otherwise be possible.