Brad Trost, Conservative party candidate (and incumbent MP) for the Saskatchewan riding of Saskatoon-Humboldt, announced on Saturday that the Conservative federal government, if re-elected, would stop funding the International Planned Parenthood Association.
“Let me just tell you, and I cannot tell you specifically how we used it, but those petitions were very, very useful and they were part of what we used to defund Planned Parenthood because it has been absolute disgrace that that organization and several others like it have been receiving one penny of Canadian taxpayers dollars,” Trost said.
As I’m sure most Shameless blog readers are aware, the United States House of Representatives voted last month to defund Planned Parenthood across the US, hailed as a major victory for the anti-choice movement. This is despite the fact that Planned Parenthood is forbidden by law, thanks to the Hyde amendment of 1976, from using government funds to provide abortion services except under extreme and rare circumstances. Among the US right-wing, “Planned Parenthood” stands as shorthand for “abortion clinic.” De-funding Planned Parenthood in the US does not prevent abortions, because that funding has not been used for abortion care since 1976.
However, as you also undoubtedly know, Planned Parenthood in the United States provides a heck of a lot more than just abortion services. (If you missed Emma’s post on the election on Shameless earlier today, check out the linked statistics.) And in Canada, the Canadian branch of Planned Parenthood, the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health (CFSH) doesn’t provide abortions at all (although it offers counselling and referrals), but does lots of other things.
So what does this “defunding” that Trost talks about mean? It’s actually a refusal to grant funding to the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which has traditionally received financial support from the Canadian government and which does a ton of work around the world. IPPF has been waiting for 18 months for approval of their current application for funding from Canada, and the denial is not official, of course, since the government is currently engaged in an election – but it looks as if this delay might just be a permanent one.
This planned action isn’t a surprise in light of Stephen Harper’s international “Maternal Health” initiative, which purports to care about women’s health and lives, but has blatantly excluded abortion care, and even contraception and family planning services, from its plan all along.
CFSH has had 99% of its federal funding cut in recent years [note: link is to an anti-choice website], so the planned “defunding” will not specifically target CFSH and Planned Parenthood locations in Canada. BUT. As a member of the IPPF, the CFSH will be affected by a lack of funding to the international organization.
We need Planned Parenthood. When I first moved to a new city and was without a family doctor, I had my annual physical and Pap test at Planned Parenthood Toronto, and had a wonderful experience. (Incidentally, this was the first and only physical I’d ever had where the doctor asked me if I wanted to be weighed, and then didn’t react in any way after reading the number on the scale.) Planned Parenthood provides primary health care, as well as sexual and reproductive heath services, for so many people who otherwise might not have access to these services. Internationally, plans like the Harper “Maternal Health” initiative will fail horribly, costing women their health and their lives, without a comprehensive family planning component at its centre.
Keep the discussion going! Please leave links to more information in comments, and feel free to share your own experiences with Planned Parenthood/CFSH. If and when any mobilization occurs around this issue, we’ll let you know!