After the maternal health initiative motion was voted down in the House, I wrote a thank you note to the Liberal MPs that either voted against the motion or were not in the House for the vote. I told them I applauded their courage, and thanked them for standing up for their beliefs. I told them that it gave me great hope for democracy and for the unborn.
The Honourable John McKay P.C., M.P. Scarborough-Guildwood, sent me a reply. Here it is.
April 14, 2010
Dear Ms. Maloney:
Thank you for your letter on the recent motion regarding maternal health and family planning. I realize that the position I took may seem controversial to some, but for me this was a moral issue, and I stand by the decision I made.
Maternal and child health is an issue that is very important to me. I have travelled extensively with various NGO’s to the developing world and seen firsthand the difficult conditions that women and children face. Therefore I support the focus on improving child and maternal health and I understand the grave need for family planning programs.
In regards to the services included with family planning, I would refer to the World Health Organization definition which defines family planning as a means to “allow individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births. It is achieved through use of contraceptive methods and the treatment of involuntary infertility.” They further describe the benefits of such treatment as “A woman's ability to space and limit her pregnancies has a direct impact on her health and well-being as well as on the outcome of each pregnancy.”
These types of programs will allow women who wish to spread out their pregnancies to do so safely and responsibly and without harming themselves or their children. I have no qualms with supporting such an initiative. I do however have serious issues with the idea of having our international aid go towards funding abortions. Regardless of one’s beliefs, I believe that we must all work together to find common ground, and dramatically reduce levels of abortion worldwide. The issue that drives abortion is that women see no reasonable alternative. For those who are committed to a pro-life position, they must also commit to providing alternatives whereby the perceived need for abortion is reduced to an absolute minimum. If women are provided with comprehensive family planning services, as well as resources and support after the child has been born, I believe that we will see a real reduction in the number of abortions internationally. This can be seen as a positive step towards improving international maternal health.
To conclude, I remain committed to the basic human value of the sanctity of life, and for that reason I voted against the recent motion. I do however still support the intent of this motion of improving the lives of women in developing countries and providing them with safe and effective family planning options. I hope that regardless of whether one defines themselves as pro-life or pro-choice we can come together to provide effective solutions for women faced with these issues, and put aside our differences in order to make a real impact on international health.
Once again thank you for your letter on this important issue; I appreciate you sharing your views with me.
The Honourable John McKay P.C., M.P.