Planned Parenthood receives $6M from Ottawa

Lee Berthiaume, Postmedia News · Feb. 1, 2012 OTTAWA - An internal government document says $6-million in funding to an organization that provides abortions in developing countries was guided by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Muskoka Initiative on maternal and child health - but not actually part of it. Postmedia News obtained the document through access to information. It emerges at a time when several Conservative backbenchers are agitating to have abortion added to the parliamentary agenda despite the government's objections. In September, the Canadian International Development Agency revealed it had approved $6-million in funding over three years for International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) projects in five countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Mali, Sudan and Tanzania. CIDA Minister Bev Oda's office said none of the IPPF projects would include abortion. But critics, including three Conservative MPs, noted the organization is a strong advocate for safe abortions in developing countries and alleged the decision did not fit with the government's own promise that the Muskoka Initiative would not support abortion. "People have asked how funding IPPF squares with the repeated statement that Canada will not fund abortion internationally," Saskatchewan Conservative MP Brad Trost said in a statement on his website on Sept. 28. "Considering that promoting abortion internationally is central to the identity of IPPF, this sort of political hairsplitting only seems to make sense in the Ottawa bubble. This is a position I totally reject." The CIDA document says the decision to provide IPPF funding was made after staff measured the project proposal against the "Muskoka Initiative's priorities." However, it also shows officials were conscious of a delineation between what constituted Muskoka Initiative projects and other maternal and child-health projects that lay outside the initiative's ambit. "The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) did not receive funding under the G-8 Muskoka Initiative, as the proposal was submitted before the Muskoka Initiative was announced," reads one statement. "Rather, IPPF received its funding as part of CIDA's ongoing commitment to improve maternal, newborn and child health." A spokesman for Ms. Oda confirmed Tuesday that CIDA is providing $1.1-billion in "new funding" for maternal and child health between 2010 and 2015 through the Muskoka Initiative, and $1.75-billion in ongoing spending described as "pre-Muskoka." But Justin Broekema did not explain why the distinction is made or whether projects approved under the "Muskoka Initiative" label have different criteria than those outside. Mr. Trost said Tuesday that whether the funding to IPPF was part of the Muskoka Initiative or not, the "spirit" of the government's promise should still apply.    

Leave a Reply