The recent decision of the Harper government to not include Abortion in their Maternal Health Initiative puts women’s lives at risk.
Access to safe abortion services and to contraception could prevent up to 40 percent of maternal deaths worldwide (United Nations, 2009). Lack of access can force women to continue with unsafe or rape/incest-initiated pregnancies or to use unsafe abortion services. More than 20 million unsafe abortions are performed yearly in countries where abortion services are not legal or where access is restricted. The Guttmacher Institute found that 13 percent of maternal deaths, or 70,000 women, occur yearly from the complications of unsafe abortions and another 5 million women are hospitalized. Women will continue to seek abortions. Yet 13 per cent of maternal deaths worldwide can be prevented by providing and funding safe and accessible abortion services.
Women’s access to safe abortion and to contraception is about the right to health care and about their right to make choices. Reproductive rights are women’s human rights. Funding for abortion is both sound health policy, and a matter of human rights for half the world’s population.
The CFUW calls upon Minster Oda, and Prime Minister Harper to stop playing ideological games with women’s lives, and promote comprehensive maternal health for women in the developing world.