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article imageTory maternal health plan takes a beating from all sides

By Bob Gordon     Mar 31, 2010 in Politics
Ottawa - The Tories' attempt to take the lead on maternal health in the run up to the G8 Summit to take place in Canada this summer is being criticized from all sides. the U.K., The United States and opposition leader Michael Ignatieff have all condemned the plan.
The Tories saw maternal and child health as a 'mom and apple pie' issue. An initiative that would gain votes with women and allow them to show their 'softer' side. They bet that only a curmudgeonly person or party would dare to oppose an initiative like that.
They did not calculate on the issue of abortion and contraception rearing their ugly heads. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon ensured they did when, approximately two weeks ago he suggested that the Tory concept of maternal and child health did not include contraception, family planning or abortion. Subsequently, Canada found itself embroiled in a very public and damaging squabble with its G8 partners over a topic that was supposed to be a sure hit.
On Monday March 29, at a press conference following a meeting of G8 foreign minister's, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was blunt in her dismissal of the Canadian plan, "You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health. And reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion." It is impossible to misunderstand or debate the meaning of that statement.
Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton.
Photo courtesy Hillary Clinton for President
Maclean's correspondent Paul Wells was directed by the British delegation to a white paper entitled, "Eliminating World Poverty: Building Our Common Future," that, in the section on 'Maternal and Child Health,' states effective maternal and child health... interventions in:
– comprehensive family planning:
advice, services, supplies.
– safe abortion services (where abortion
is legal).
– antenatal care.
– quality care at birth, including skilled
attendance and emergency obstetric
and neonatal care.
The very public international kerfuffle gave the opposition Liberals a chance to strike. "It's very rare in Canadian politics, to my memory, to have a Canadian government that takes leadership on the international stage, or tries to, and is thoroughly rebuked not only by the United States but by Great Britain," said Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, making political hay of Canada's isolation. An unnamed senior Liberal insider went even further, speaking to The Globe and Mail, "“In its current form, it does look D.O.A., that is quite clear.”
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