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2011 Election, Canadiana

Editorial: On the Right Wing and Planned Parenthood

Image Courtesy of the Saskatoon Star Phoenix

There is a cowardly undertone to the way in which people on the right often approach their blind hatred of Planned Parenthood. Those not brave enough to say how they truly feel – that they oppose abortion as a moral issue, and it is their right to feel that way, however much I disagree – more often than not hide behind a veil as thin as their respect for the rights and choices of their fellow human beings. That veil is money.

As reported in the Toronto Star, Brad Trost, incumbent for Saskatoon-Humboldt, spoke to the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association’s annual convention on Saturday in praise of their efforts to help defund Planned Parenthood Canada. In Canada, Planned Parenthood is listed as an International Aid Organization because of its founding in Bombay, India in 1952, and its international focus. It is thus dependent on the benevolent Bev Oda for funding approval.

And while Planned Parenthood Canada has not received official notification that their funding proposal for $18M has been rejected, comments such as this from Trost, Oda’s refusal to comment on the matter, and the Harper governments disgusting refusal to discuss abortion or contraception in their G8/G20 Maternal Rights campaign have convinced many that the money is not forthcoming.

And Conservative candidate Brad Trost would have his fellow Pro-Lifer’s believe that this latest success is do largely to their petition-signing efforts, and, no doubt, ardent faith.

But what is missing from Trost’s boasting, and what brings me back to my original point, is that he couches his hatred of Planned Parenthood in the veil of money. He argued, “it has been [an] absolute disgrace that that organization and several others like it have been receiving one penny of Canadian taxpayers dollars.” And that despite his best efforts, Planned Parenthood was still “trying to get their snout back in the public trough.”

His comments, and any other effort that reduces human beings to taxpayers, are reductivist. We are more than simply tax-paying voters, and something so intimately personal as a woman’s choice to have an abortion should not be influenced by a minority groups tax preferences. I have no problem with Trost and his ilk standing opposed to abortion; it takes all kinds, as they say. But have the decency to oppose something for a deeper-seated conviction than inconveniencing taxpayers.

I personally do not like my tax dollars subsidizing oil companies because they are complicit in destroying our environment, and I won’t hide behind money when I say as much – but as I have argued elsewhere, living in a democracy is about compromises, about the trading off and accepting of things you may personally not approve of. I live with oil subsidies because we also help aid organizations provide safe births and – yes, sometimes – safe abortions around the world. Why is nothing ever enough for the Right?

Add to this the fact that there is often confusion between what Planned Parenthood does, and how they come to be seen as a stand-in for abortion access. They are so much more than that! And in their blind hatred of a woman’s right to access an abortion in Canada, Trost and others in the Pro-Life movement disregard the things that Planned Parenthood does around the world that they might actually be in favour of: like maternal health, and ensuring that those mothers in the Global South who decide to have their babies can have healthy children in a safe environment. Yes, the devil’s work indeed, Brad Trost.

To their credit, the Conservative Party appears to be distancing themselves from Trost’s comments. He has been characterized as merely a “backbencher” that has no involvement in the allocation of resources to aid organizations. But as was discussed before last year’s disastrous G8/G20 summit, any work that Planned Parenthood does internationally on maternal health that does not involve any discussion of abortion or contraception is irresponsible and dangerous politicking that puts lives in the Global South at risk. Plain and simple. If you are going to fund Planned Parenthood Canada, then let them do their jobs to the fullest extent possible.

For Canadian women, it is cold comfort that the plan to defund Planned Parenthood Canada would likely effect women in Africa and South America more than it would women in Moose Jaw and Yellowknife. We are fortunate here. But women in the Global South rely much more heavily on organizations like Planned Parenthood than women in Canada might, and this decision to deny funding is twice as offensive for the hurt it causes to the world’s most vulnerable citizens.

– – –

Courtney Walker will join the discussion later on today with an article on the incredibly variety of work that Planned Parenthood does around the world. Please check back.

About awreeves

Editor-in-chief at Alternatives Journal. Author of 'Overrun: Dispatches from the Asian carp Crisis'.



  1. Pingback: Editorial: The Right’s Tunnel Vision on Women’s Health « the reeves report - April 21, 2011

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