Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Status of Women Committee hears evidence for Maternal Health Care initiative

Bias: predisposition, preconception, predilection, partiality, proclivity, bent, leaning

Recently the Status of Women Committee submitted a report of the result of four days of meetings and witness testimony at the Status of Women committee, which includes members from all parties, after maternal and child health was adopted as the priority of the G8 meeting.

There were 16 presenters. I have identified what they said on abortion and/or interesting quotes they made. It was not certain in all cases if a presenter was advocating for abortion. I have included some interesting testimony as well from Bloc MP Nicole Demers.

Noticeably absent from the hearings were MaterCare International and REAL Women of Canada. I contacted MaterCare and asked them why they were not present.

Dr Rob Walley replied: "This is the first I have heard of such hearings. MaterCare International obviously was not invited. It is just another example of what is happening in Canada. It is a joke for which the tax payer will pay to fund abortion birth control etc. Africans do not want this form of abortion Imperialism."

Dr. Walley also sent me a copy of his press release that MaterCare circulated before the G8 conference.

Ms. Diane Watts confirmed for me that REAL Women was not invited to the hearings.

May 3 presentations:
Canadian Society for International Health, Janet Hatcher Roberts, Executive Director: (Says nothing specific about abortion)

Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), Dorothy Shaw, Canada Spokesperson ("you can save even more lives if you add in access to safe abortion")

Women Deliver, Jill Wilkinson Sheffield, President ("women need access to safe abortion services where and when legal")

May 5 presentations:
Action Canada for Population and Development, Katherine McDonald, Executive Director (strong abortion advocates)

Guttmacher Institute, Sharon Camp, President and Chief Executive Officer (supports safe abortion. "The 1993 Helms amendment, which prohibits the use of U.S. foreign aid dollars for abortion promotion or services, still stands. I would certainly like to see it overturned. I doubt that will happen in the next year or two.")

Oxfam Canada, Robert Fox, Executive Director ("A woman dies every eight minutes on this planet from an unsafe abortion. There are many women in situations of conflict who wish they had access to safe services.")

White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, Maureen McTeer, Canadian Representative ("Whenever I think that a woman dies from an abortion every eight minutes or that every minute a woman dies trying to give a birth, I tell myself that something is not working.")

May 10 presentations:
Canadian Federation for Sexual Health, Jolanta Scott-Parker, Executive Director (supports abortion)

Fédération du Québec pour le planning des naissances, Ainsley Jenicek, Project Manager (supports abortion, used the word "abortion" 33 times in her presentation, noteable quote: "Having sat in just a few weeks ago on a few abortions, prior to 15 weeks, in a feminist clinic in Quebec...These procedures are so fast and so cost-effective")

International Confederation of Midwives, Bridget Lynch, President ("Midwives provide family planning, and in some countries are attending at first trimester abortions...Women will die, and women will die if there aren't functioning health care systems. Ultimately, this is not our decision about who receives and who does not receive an abortion. We should not be involved in this discussion as a nation. That is up to the individual woman and her health care providers. I don't even want to say that it's up to the law in the country, because it is not. We all, as women and as people, have to get past this. It's ridiculous. I'm seeing what is going on with the politicization of this committee. We're wasting this opportunity to support Canada taking a leadership role, including the provision of.... I've been sitting here for an hour and a half now, somewhat aghast, as I realize the division within this committee. What is going on here? Being so absolutely, humanly... I'm asking the question. What is happening here politically? Are you really saying that in 2010 a woman should die because Canada said, based on politics, that we wouldn't be providing funding")

International Planned Parenthood Federation, Pierre La Ramée, Director, Development and Public Affairs, Western Hemisphere Region (strong abortion supporter, "I'd like to say a little bit about abortion in Africa and Latin America. It would be a misrepresentation to say that abortion is illegal in Africa and Latin America. The fact is that in the majority of countries in Africa and Latin America it's legal under some circumstances. In countries where it is not legal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo being a case in point, Canada's concern shouldn't be to try to impose its laws or its values on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rather, I would hope that Canada would be concerned with rape as a weapon of war and the large number of women who die from unsafe abortion, because in a circumstance where abortion is not legal, this becomes a major contributor to maternal mortality".)

Regroupement Naissance-Renaissance, Lorraine Fontaine, Coordinator, Political Issues (doesn't mention abortion)

(an interesting exchange):
Mrs. Michelle Simson (Scarborough Southwest, Lib.):
We've heard testimony from witnesses during the course of this study that access to full reproductive and sexual health care is not just a health issue, but it's a basic human right. Would you agree with this view or not?

Mr. Pierre La Ramée: Yes.
Ms. Jolanta Scott-Parker: Yes, absolutely.
Ms. Ainsley Jenicek: Yes.
Ms. Bridget Lynch: Yes.
Ms. Lorraine Fontaine: Yes.
Mrs. Michelle Simson: Thank you.

May 12, 2010:
AUTO21, Anne Snowdon, Researcher
Results Canada, Christina Dendys, Executive Director
Safe Kids Canada, Pamela Fuselli, Executive Director
Save the Children Canada, Cicely McWilliam, Coordinator, EVERY ONE Campaign
(None of these four women mentioned abortion in their presentations.)

Mrs. Michelle Simson (Lib)
"So my question is this. Given that you all mentioned that you support a comprehensive approach, wouldn't you agree that this is now maybe becoming a menu-like approach, based on what our government would like to do, and would contradict this consensus on a comprehensive approach, and in doing so would drastically reduce its effectiveness?"

The Chair: We'll begin with Ms. McWilliam.

Ms. Cicely McWilliam: To be honest, I actually will choose to stay silent on that, in large part because there is a reason why we as a group, and Save the Children in particular, in our brief focused on community health workers. It's that we really felt that this was where the need is. It's not that we don't support the notion of a comprehensive approach. We're a member of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, and as a member we have certainly endorsed their overall mission statement.
But from the point of view of the work that we do, what we see —

Mrs. Michelle Simson: Yes, you did testify that your organization doesn't offer any abortion services.

Ms. Cicely McWilliam: Right, but beyond just the services we provide, I'm talking about what we see on the ground and the fact that roughly 85% of the women who are dying are dying not because of or related to abortion. Those are all reasons why we felt it was important to focus on providing skilled attendants —

Mrs. Michelle Simson: You mean they're not dying as a result of a lack of access to abortion?

Ms. Cicely McWilliam: No, no, 85% are dying through lack of access to skilled birth attendants and because of sepsis, etc.

Mrs. Michelle Simson: I don't mean to cut you off, but this is a five-minute round, so I want to give the other witnesses an opportunity.

Ms. Cicely McWilliam: Fair enough. But that's why I sort of stayed silent, on balance.

The Chair: Ms. Dendys.

Ms. Christina Dendys: I actually didn't think you stayed silent. I thought it was a good answer. We focused on Canada's value-add being front line workers because we thought that's where we could have tremendous impact for the very poorest people where they live. But in terms of a comprehensive approach, what I heard coming out of the development ministers meeting was that under the G8 initiative as a whole, countries will have an opportunity to invest where they feel they can have the most impact, based on their skills and their capacity, and that Canada's approach would be focused on contraception and other ranges of opportunities, but not necessarily abortion.

Dr. Anne Snowdon: I have nothing further to add.

The Chair: Ms. Fuselli.

Ms. Pamela Fuselli: No, this is outside of my scope of expertise,for sure. Certainly we focus on the child side.

The Chair: Thank you. You have one and a half minutes.

Mrs. Michelle Simson: If you focus on the child side, would you reject evidence that access to safe abortions and contraception could prevent up to 40% of maternal deaths, which has a direct impact on a child, who can die as a result of their mother having died?

Ms. Pamela Fuselli: The topic is completely outside of my scope of expertise.

The Chair: Ms. Dendys, did you want to answer that? You seemed to be

Ms. Christina Dendys: I'm sorry, I was confused about who it was directed to. You said that a large proportion of women die because of lack of access to contraceptive care. What we're advocating concerning these front line health workers is certainly the capacity to deliver a full range of supports in terms of contraception and family planning and birth spacing.

The Chair: You have 30 seconds.

Mrs. Michelle Simson: The other part of the question was this. If mothers are dying, if 40% of maternal deaths are lack of access to safe abortions, because they're jumping off roofs, would you not agree that it has a direct impact on the lives of children?

Ms. Cicely McWilliam: I'm sorry, I've not heard that statistic, so I can't speak to it. The statistic that I've seen repeatedly is that it's roughly 15% of women. That's not something to sneeze at, not by any stretch of the imagination. I don't want to leave the impression that I think that's an acceptable number. But as I said, because the majority of the women, according to the statistics, whom we've seen and worked with as organizations are dying because of problems related to the carrying of a child to term and the problems during delivery and after delivery, that is where we felt the focus should be.

The Chair: Thank you.

(later evidence follows...notice how Ms. Demers' tone changes as she asks her questions and note her very last comment)

The Chair: Thank you, Mrs. Wong.

Now we go to Madame Demers for the Bloc.

Ms. Nicole Demers (Laval, BQ): Thank you, Madam Chair.
Ladies, thank you for being here. The World Health Organization says that for the fifth millennium development goal to be achieved, maternal mortality rates will have to decrease much faster that they did between 1990 and 2005, which means that there must be greater focus on women's health care and prevention of unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions, and women must be able to receive quality obstetrical care during pregnancy and childbirth.

Today, one seventh of the women in Africa die from failed or unsafe abortions or in childbirth. Nearly 1.7 million women a year have abortions that leave them injured, mutilated, unable to have children after or dead because they had children after. A total of 45,000 women die every year.

You said that was nothing to sneeze at. Don't all these women have the right to stay alive, like any woman who wants to have children, and look forward to having a child one day when they are ready to have one?

Don't you think that our goal as a country should also include ensuring that all women can live and survive pregnancy and childbirth or an abortion of an unwanted pregnancy?

Ms. Cicely McWilliam: First of all, as I said before, Save the Children is a member of the partnership, and we support the notion of an entire support of reproductive care, or health care in totality. What I was saying in relation to the focus of this brief is, again, where the consensus of the organizations who drafted it felt that the value-add for Canada was. Again, the G8 as a whole will take reproductive care up —

Ms. Nicole Demers: I am sorry, but I did not read your brief. I did not have time to read it because we just received it. I am asking you a very simple question. You said you agreed that the full range of care should be provided. I do not agree that women in other countries should receive less care than women here. I am sorry. Ms. Dendys, I would like your opinion on this.

Ms. Christina Dendys: I don't disagree with you, in the sense that all women should have access to health. What we were asked to present on was where we thought the value-added was and where we thought we could have tremendous impact in terms of the vast majority of women and children who are dying. We collectively have determined, based on my colleagues' expertise or the groups' expertise, that community care and front line health workers can have a tremendous impact and give tremendous value-added to the continuum of care.

A bigger issue related to what you are talking about in terms of the full range of reproductive choice is that one of the challenges in 90% of African countries is that there is no access to abortion. It's illegal.

Ms. Nicole Demers: Madame Dendys, je comprends —

Ms. Christina Dendys: I mean, there are ways to address that through the UN, and other ways as well, but I am just saying that we were asked to present here on what we thought our value-add was for Canada. So that's what we're presenting on.

Ms. Nicole Demers: I understand that you likely receive funding and cannot speak. That is clear.

The Chair: You have one more minute.

Ms. Nicole Demers: No, thank you, Madam Chair. It is pointless for me to be here today after what I have heard.

The Chair: Thank you, Madame Demers.
Ms. Mathyssen for the NDP.

Ms. Irene Mathyssen: Thank you, Madam Chair.


All testimony is found here
Monday, May June 7, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wednesday May 5, 2010

Monday May 3, 2010

1 comment:

  1. It seems the Status of Women Committee deliberately excluded Mater Care International and Real Women. The Committee has their own agenda and only represents a portion of Canadian women. This is a great article Pat. Lots of work! Interesting comments from the participants at the meetings.