Prime Minister Harper has just invited Malawi and Ethiopia to the G20 meeting happening next week – and if they accept they will be the first African countries other than South Africa to attend. This generous act brings up complications for the government and the bureaucrats who have to deliver any supposed new maternal programs they are going to create.
In 2005 Ethiopia passed a law that IPAS, a well respected maternal health agency, called a “significant precedent for abortion-law reform in other African nations“. This law, passed in 2005, permits abortion in a broad range of situations: when the pregnancy results from rape or incest; when the health or life of the woman and the fetus are in danger; in cases of fetal abnormalities; for women with physical or mental disabilities; and for minors who are physically or psychologically unprepared to raise a child. The revised law also notes that poverty and other social factors may be grounds for reducing the criminal penalty for abortion.
Sounds great. Sounds like Ethiopia has more progressive policy than the Conservative Party of Canada.
What needs to be clarified is Canada’s stance on their stated non-funding of abortion policy and how it affects funding to nations such as Ethiopia. Are they inviting one of the most advanced countries in regards to maternal health in Africa without informing them that a key component of their health policy will disallow funding? How is this policy interpreted in regards to funding? It is grossly simplistic to say that Canada will fund one component of their maternal health care and not the other.
This again demonstrates the continued foreign policy confusion within the Canadian government and demands a re-think on this key maternal health policy … before it is launched next week.
ps. It is also worth noting that Malawi is one of the countries in the world where the greatest number of maternal deaths occur, attributed in part due to their abortion policies, where abortions lead to “complications such as haemorrhage, infection, infertility and death … overdosing on drugs such as quinine, drinking powdered soaps and using herbs from traditional healers were cited as the most common methods of illegal abortion in Malawi.”