Within a day of Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth's tactical warning on Monday to NGOs that their insistence on having access to abortion included in Steve's maternal health initiative for developing countries risked blowing the whole thing up, proponents on the pro-choice side were at each other's throats.
Progressive Bloggers featured a whole page of moronic posts denouncing the pro-choice Nancy Ruth, founder of LEAF ferchissakes, for "intimidation" and calling for her dismissal. A quick check just now reveals those "intimidation" posts are still coming.
The Liberal Party immediately dashed off a fundraising letter to supporters :
So this is how the Conservative government treats those who work with women and children in some of the world’s poorest nations?"
Shut the f—- up on this issue," Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth told international aid workers who gathered on Parliament Hill earlier today to express their concerns about the government’s maternal health policy. She then warned them the organizations they represent risk losing their funding, or worse, if they continue to speak their mind. "If you push it, there will be more backlash," she said.
We cannot let the government treat Canadians this way. Their contempt for the public has reached a level you and I just can’t tolerate.
The men and women who were insulted and threatened today have every right to be deeply concerned about this government’s backwards approach to maternal health, which departs from over twenty years of established Canadian policy supporting women’s rights to access safe, legal abortion and the full range of family planning services.
And when they say they find it tougher to do their jobs effectively under Stephen Harper, we believe them.
Thanks, Libs. You know what would have counted? Showing up in the House to vote for your own party's motion to include contraception and the unspoken word 'abortion' in Steve's wee world stage gambit.
Over at Rabble, the regulars are busy announcing their intention to pull financial support for any aid group that buckles under Harper's pressure - you know, the aid groups that have been working for years to get some kind of maternal health funding - any kind of maternal health funding going - for the women and children in poor and war torn countries.
It's principle vs pragmatism for the aid groups.
Pragmatism : If they insist women in poor countries are accorded the same rights women have in Canada, they risk losing their funding - and the desperately needed aid they can provide - after the G-8 spotlight moves on. In fact Harper cut funding for 11 women's groups in just the last two weeks, although I see Wycliffe Bible Translators and Chakam School of the Bible will still be getting their funding.
Principle : Experience shows shutting the fuck up is indistinguishable from compliance - it just encourages the bastards, and your silence will not protect you.
JJ, Just Another Willy Loman, and Dave at TGB have already advised not to shoot the messenger, Nancy Ruth, and to take note of the end of her warning :
"Canada is still a country with free and accessible abortion. Leave it there.Today JJ takes it further : It's a trap.
Don't make this an election issue."
"... eventually the spiraling debate over funding abortion as part of foreign aid would boomerang as the focus inevitably shifted back to our own domestic policies."Yes. It may have started with funding abroad but now it's on its way home.
I don't think Steve intended his moms and tots feel-good world-stage initiative to blow up in his face this way, putting the spotlight on Canada as the most backwards nation in the G-8. No.
But never underestimate Steve's ability to turn a seeming loss into an opportunity to set his enemies against each other to quietly further his agenda.
For weeks leading up to this, various noosemedia editorials, polls, and live "discussions" have noted the fact Canada doesn't really have its own codified abortion law.
Seriously, who the fuck wants one? Who wants government interfering in this in any way at all?
Speak out for all the aid groups forced to struggle with an unnecessary principle/pragmatism divide imposed by Harper.
Speak out against being silenced with threats.
But when it comes to reigniting the abortion debate here in Canada, which it will, could everyone please just shut the fuck up.
Awesomely said, Alison.
Ever since this thing started, it's reeked of some kind of setup to me, which is why I never blogged about it when it was the issue du jour and why I'm not opposed to Nancy Ruth's infamous message now.
Whatever's wrong with the initiative, it can be fixed by a new government. But that might not happen if SH is able to use this issue to mobilize his base. He came very close to getting a majority last time, with a lackadaisical base -- imagine if they were mobilized.
Canada is still a predominantly pro-choice country, but not by the huge margins some believe. And most people have a fairly "nuanced" position on it, the majority favouring some kind of limits and law. Pro-choice absolutists like myself are in the minority, and the average person doesn't realize (or care) how government intrusion in this issue would compromise womens' rights.
IMO, it's a mistake to make this a big issue -- it could blow up in our faces big time. And I think that is what Nancy Ruth was trying to say, bless her potty-mouthed little heart :p
I already support at least one very effective NGO that manages to stay away from the abortion conumdrum - Catholic OverSeas Services ..... they do good and often brave work.
Yet they have never told me to STFU - nor have they agreed with anyone who has. When I donate to them I know what I am getting into. That these other NGOs would change their fundamental positions out of fear of a government is unacceptable to me.
To those that told me (even if not so harshly) to STFU, I say - there are that many good (and I consider) honest organizations about that I can satisfy my desire to aid in foreign development and ignore you!
JJ, I'm not so sure we're of an absolute minority.
And even those I've talked to who are pro-life, do accept and respect that accessible legal abortions for all. Surely, even those on the fence, would not want us going backwards, would they? Criminalizing abortion would certainly start that downward spiral.
Steve is proving to me more and more that he is a facist. Check definitions that are around, I guarantee, you'll find that those definitions and character traits resemble Steve more and more.
Wow, did this ever need saying. Excellent post.
As an oldtime abortion activist I have been watching with horror the ridiculous 'we will not shut up' grandstanding of so-called progressive women.
The fascist right must be just creaming themselves that after all these years of failing to reopen the abortion debate in this country themselves, the 'left' is going to do it for them.
ck "And even those I've talked to who are pro-life, do accept and respect that accessible legal abortions for all."
That's also known as "pro-choice". One's personal stance isn't as important as how they feel about imposing that stance on others. Anyone who wouldn't do that is by definition pro-choice.
Also, I am not saying pro-choicers are a minority -- we're not. What I'm saying is that pro-choice absolutists are a minority (about 30%, IIRC), the absolutist position being abortion on demand, no explanations required, no state interference (laws), no restrictions.
Unfortunately, even some pro-choicers think restrictions are acceptable. How many times have you heard someone say "I'm pro-choice, but I think there should be limits" or "I'm pro-choice, as long as it's in the first trimester"? If it came to debating an abortion law in Canada, you trust them at your peril.
That's why I think it's better to listen to Nancy, let the G8 issue slide and take care of it later. I don't want this issue to bring abortion into the forefront of public discussion -- and frankly, I'm offended at the very concept of the general public debating something that is my personal business.
There are wheels within wheels here. Wycliff Bible Translators has had covert CIA support : because providing Bibles to primitive peoples 'softened them up' for corporate takeover to become assimilated...and marginalized into starvation as the jungle is cleared.
The US has tied 'aid' funds to teaching abstinence as a birth control preferred option : which has the side effect of promoting ignorance of anything that might actually work.
At home there was a bit of a rebellion by doctors a while back when Ralphie Klein tried to pull funding for abortions that were 'non-essential'. The CMA promptly told him they were ALL necessary and to quit trying to practice medicine.
Meanwhile companies keep up the pressure to 'privatize' everything so as to have a free lunch on the public purse.
Happy to follow your lead on this, JJ.
What worries me is if this thing gets resuscitated, there will be pressure to make compromises to "be fair", to keep both sides happy. Thin end of dah wedge.
Alison - Agreed: if this issue gets resuscitated, there's no guarantee it will end well for pro-choicers.
Short of a free ice cream cone after every procedure, we already have everything we could want in the status quo. In any debate, that makes our default position defense, which almost certainly means giving up something.
We've been fortunate in that there's been no political will to tackle this issue, and it's not even on the average person's radar. The longer that goes on, the better. But when I start seeing column after column about abortion all over the media almost every day for weeks on end, I get nervous.
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