This past weekend, amidst Senate scandals and new allegations of crack-smoking mayors, the Conservative party met in Calgary for their national convention. MPs and delegates spent the weekend discussing numerous issues to hopefully set the stage for how they plan to move forward as we gear up for the 2015 federal election.
Among speeches regarding the economy and union wages, another controversial topic up for discussion was sex-selective abortions, a practice that the Conservative party apparently “overwhelmingly” voted to condemn.
The discourse around banning sex selective abortions is usually presented as a feminist one – to protect girls, fight for equal rights and ensure that Canadians aren’t practicing “gendercide” by choosing to have male children instead of female ones. To make sure girls aren’t killed just for being girls.
The problem is, it’s a façade. This is not a fight to stand up for women’s rights. Under current Canadian law, barring medical necessity or serious abnormalities, women cannot receive abortions after the 24th week of their pregnancy. Until then, the fetus is a part of her body. It’s her choice what to do with it. It does not matter how you spin the issue. Once you have lawmakers imposing their values and telling her otherwise, then women’s rights will be set back 50 years. It doesn’t matter what kind of new PR / marketing strategy the anti-abortion groups have come up with. It’s her choice.
Harper, for his part, has always stated that the issue of abortion is absolutely not up for debate. That the discussion will not be reopened. Is that because our Prime Minister is pro-choice? No. It’s because he knows it will cost him elections to open up such a contentious social issue. In fact, in countries where he doesn’t have to worry about election outcomes, his party’s official position is rather different.
Over the last month the Conservatives have made it very clear that they will not even consider funding projects that provide wanted abortions in cases of war rape and child marriage. Even in countries where abortions are legal.
The Harper Government’s official stance is that the funding money will go further and be more helpful used as pre and post-partum aid, ensuring that mother and child have healthy, safe pregnancies and births. Yet they do not respond when pressed as to why abortions aren’t considered to be an appropriate pre-partum aid. Why they refuse to even allow abortions as an option. Again – even in countries where abortions are legal. Meaning, it’s legal here, it’s legal there, yet our government chooses to hypocritically not offer this kind of help to women outside of Canada who need it.
If their party really is basing their discussion of sex-selective abortions on the fight for women’s rights – how can they at the same time blatantly refuse to offer those same basic rights internationally?
I can’t help but wonder if it’s because Harper thinks of Canadians as a passive group that won’t get angry on behalf of the women around the world to whom his government is refusing basic human rights? He knows that he would not be able to restrict access to abortions in Canada (at least for now) without causing a major outrage and very likely costing his party its power. It seems though, that he also suspects that internationally, where we as Canadians are not directly affected, he is able to do what he wants, making decisions based on religious ideology rather than medical necessity.
Let’s show him that he’s wrong. That, as Canadians, we believe in equal rights for women around the world. That we won’t just stand by as his government refuses to offer care to women who need it because they believe abortions are immoral.
Leavenow.ca has a petition that you can sign, here: http://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/the-canadian-government-refusing-to-fund-abortion-for-war-rape-victims
As well, you can write to International Development Minister Christian Paradis at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Christian Paradis
International Development Minister
House of Commons
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