Stephen Harper wants to kill women. At least, that's what he'll accomplish if he succeeds in forbidding Canadian aid money to make abortions safe for women in developing countries.
For reasons unknown - likely pure ignorance, certainly not true love or respect - the head of our minority government put women's health and child mortality on the table at the G8, offering up a billion dollars of matching funds. Stephen really cares, right?
Then he turned around and declared contraception to be off limits. Apparently he's unaware of the high number of unwanted pregnancies that women experience due to rape, lack of economic or social power to say no to a husband, deep-rooted disempowerment and inequality. Apparently he doesn't keep up on statistics of 10-year-old mothers (yes, ten - see the stats in this photo of number of adolescent pregnancies in one year in Guatemala); girls who never get the chance for an education or a life of their choosing. Or if he does know it, he doesn't see giving these girls and women control over reproduction as a fair response.
Then he imposes his moral standard that all these young girls and adolescents, these women who can't support a first or another child, must have that unwanted baby. By refusing to allow safe abortion, he condemns them to illegal, unsanitary abortions that have been outlawed in our own society. In Africa, 40% of women who die during pregancy and childbirth die because of an illegal abortion. That number is 13% worldwide.
Outlawing abortions has never made it go away, it just drives it underground. And women and their babies die. Four out every 10 of those African women and their babies die.
Quite simply, if mr. harper really cares about women and wants to keep them alive, he will allow us to continue our work - which has been proven to reduce maternal mortality - of helping women choose when to become pregnant, and ensuring that those who choose to end an unwanted pregnancy can do so safely.
This is just one of many messages that we are here in Toronto trying to pass along to the leaders who will come nowhere near us. Harper is imposing his personal beliefs - beliefs not shared by the majority of Canadians whom he is supposed to represent - and the girls and women of the world will continue to pay the price. The same girls and women whom he is pretending to champion.
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