Trudeau and Mulcair will include abortion as part of the maternal health initiative overseas–this is no great surprise. What is surprising to me is the number of folks who are quite happy to frame abortion provision as included in reproductive services and maternal health.
One woman’s violence is another’s “compassionate care,” which is precisely why you can’t have a “woman’s issue” debate. Sigh.
Just as a small aside, this:
“According to a 2011 World Health Organization report, 21.6 million unsafe abortions were performed around the world in 2008 — almost all of them in developing countries.”
The source for [these numbers] lies in a series of reports published by WHO called Unsafe Abortion. There, researchers repeatedly clarify how hard it is to study the issue due to the lack of data. One citation (of many) reads: “As there are no feasible data collection methods that can reliably reflect the overall burden of unsafe abortion, one is left to work with incomplete information on incidence and mortality from community studies or hospitals … This is then adjusted to correct for misreporting and under-reporting.”
It’s no big surprise that some of the world’s poorest or war-torn nations don’t keep impeccable abortion statistics. So researchers rely on assumption after assumption.
Like this one: Abortions in the developing world, they say, are always under-reported. This assumption leads researchers to consistently inflate abortion numbers. Entirely lacking is any rigorous defence of this opinion. There’s every reason to believe that local attitudes toward abortion, most of which are significantly less approving of abortion than those in the West, might lead women to have fewer abortions, not more.
Then there’s the assumption that allows for local data to be applied nationally. “It was assumed that sub-national data could be extrapolated to country level with adjustments,” write researchers. That’s about as rigorous as assuming that since 2% of Saskatchewan is francophone, so too is 2% of Canada.
What about this one? Researchers assume that half of induced abortions would result in hospitalization for complications, using hospitalization rates to attempt to calculate unsafe abortion rates and then death from unsafe abortion. Yet that is entirely unreliable: Depending on the method used to abort, the prior health of the mother and access to basic antiseptic supplies, this ratio could be far too low or far too high.
I’m not a single issue voter myself, so I get it when people who are pro-life vote for a pro-choice candidate or a pro-choice party. Also it is fully possible that money is being put to abortions overseas even now (unreported).
All that said, not including abortion in maternal health makes sense. After all, making someone “no longer a mother” (of that particular child–she may have others) isn’t the same thing as making life healthy as a mother.
What I’m after is a society and a world where mothers are not penalized for being mothers, and a developing world where childbirth is as safe as it is in Canada today. And childbirth in Canada is not safe because of abortion, it’s safe in spite of it.by