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Another anti-abortion Tory blasts funding for ‘nefarious’ aid group

Another Conservative backbencher is challenging his government's decision to give funds to an international aid organization that includes abortion among the reproductive and health services it provides to women around the world.

Maurice Vellacott, the MP for Saskatoon–Wanuskewin, turned his attack on the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), claiming it used "deceitful language on abortion to con the Canadian government for taxpayer dollars under the Muskoka Maternal/Child Health initiative."

That initiative was announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper last year as part of a G8 legacy commitment. But Mr. Harper made it clear from the outset that none of the money Canada would dedicate to the issue would be used to fund abortion.

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Bev Oda, the Minister for International Development, announced last week that IPPF would get $6-million over three years but specified that the money would go to five countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Mali, Sudan and Tanzania – where abortion is illegal.

In a news release (PDF) issued Friday, Mr. Vellacott says the aid organization is being duplicitous.

"The IPPF is trying to dupe us into believing that, because Canadian taxpayer dollars are going to countries where abortion is supposedly illegal, the money won't be spent on abortions," he says.

But in Bangladesh, Mr. Vellacott says, "this nefarious organization" will perform a procedure called "menstrual regulation" using vacuum suction on pregnant women that he says is an abortion by another name.

"So funding IPPF in these five countries contradicts a criterion for Prime Minister Stephen Harper's noble initiative to save the lives of women and children in developing countries," he writes.

There have been few instances since Mr. Harper first took office in 2006 that his caucus members have spoken out against a government policy. The fact there has been significant dissention to the IPPF funding aired in public by Conservative MPs without response from the PMO suggests the MPs may have received the Prime Minister's blessing to register their disapproval.

Mr. Vellacott's release comes two days after his fellow Saskatchewan caucus member, Brad Trost, railed at the government decision to fund the IPPF saying "this sort of political hairsplitting only seems to make sense in the Ottawa bubble."

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And another backbench Tory – Leon Benoit, the MP for Vegreville–Wainwright – has also waded into the fray.

On the Friday's notice paper, (as spotted by the eagle eye of the CBC's Kady O'Malley) Mr. Benoit moves that "in the opinion of the House, part of Margaret Sanger's philosophy constitutes eugenics, and that the House condemn the use of her name by the International Planned Parenthood Federation for the annual Margaret Sanger award."

Ms. Sanger, who was also criticized in Mr. Vellacott's release, founded the American Birth Control League, which later became the Planned Parenthood Foundation of America. She believed that birth control and eugenics – discouraging reproduction by people with undesirable traits – could assist "the race toward the elimination of the unfit."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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