Planned Parenthood says Canada helping prevent abortions

Canadian funding for contraception programs will help cut the number of abortions in developing countries, a Planned Parenthood spokesman says.
Canada is helping reduce the number of abortions around the world when it funds contraception, a spokesman for the International Planned Parenthood Federation said Thursday. Here, a health worker wraps a baby that was born minutes before as the mother looks on at the government maternity hospital in Nepal. (Gemunu Amarasinghe/Associated Press)

Canadian funding for contraception programs will help cut the number of abortions in developing countries, a spokesman for International Planned Parenthood said Thursday.

The International Planned Parenthood Federation is hitting back at a Conservative MP who's urging the government to cut the group's funding, pointing to new research that shows cutting contraception programs leads to more abortions.

On Wednesday, Conservative MP Brad Trost said anti-abortion activists should be more aggressive to force the government to pay attention to their campaign. He also reiterated his opposition to any funding for the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which the government has approved for $6 million in funding for contraception and sex education programs in five developing countries.

Trost says the group shouldn't get any Canadian government money because they provide abortions in countries where it's legal.

The Canadian money is for projects that will provide contraception and sex education in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Mali, Sudan and Tanzania. None of the money will go to abortions.

A spokesman for International Planned Parenthood said research shows how much those programs are needed.

"If Brad Trost’s position were taken up and that funding was removed entirely, and those family planning programs had to be scrapped, then that leaves women very vulnerable to unwanted pregnancy and unplanned pregnancy," Paul Bell said.

"All the research shows that, regardless of the situation in a country, a woman, if she finds herself in a position where she needs an abortion, she will have an abortion, whether it’s safe or unsafe."

Bell pointed to a study released Tuesday by a research centre at Stanford University that looked at data from 260,000 women in sub-Saharan Africa between 1994 and 2008.

From 2001 to 2008, the U.S. government eliminated funding for groups like International Planned Parenthood that offered abortion, along with contraception and other women's health services, which forced them to close clinics.

The researchers found that the number of abortions rose in those years over the previous seven years, as much as two-and-a-half times in some countries.

"We actually have to deliver these services on the ground," Bell said. "And the reality for us is day in and day out, we face women who have the impossible task of finding contraception. We face women who have had unsafe abortions and we have to perform post-abortion care to help them stop the bleeding."  

Bell says there are 21 million unsafe abortions around the world every year.

"This isn’t an issue that’s going away," he said. "By funding IPPF to do [offer contraception] and not funding IPPF to do abortions, Canada is making a significant difference to preventing abortion."