Rally for life

  • October 11, 2011

On Oct. 22 a group of hopeful young Christians is holding a rally for people of all ages that deserves widespread attention and support.

The youth wing of Campaign Life Coalition will gather at Queen’s Park in Toronto to urge the provincial government to stop funding abortions with taxpayer money. The target of their protest will be the Ontario government, but the message should resonate with provincial governments nationwide.

Abortion laws are a federal matter, so provincial lawmakers can’t legislate abortion out of existence. But there is no legal requirement for provinces to use stressed health budgets to fund an elective procedure, and it becomes morally indefensible to do so at a time when basic health care is itself on life support.

Across Canada, there are shortages of doctors, nurses, diagnostic equipment, rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, home care programs, palliative care centres, research labs — the list goes on. According to the Canada Health Act, provinces are required to fund “medically necessary” health services. But only a tiny percentage of the approximately 100,000 abortions performed annually in Canada could be classified as medical necessities.

“Pregnancy is not an injury, illness or disease,” according to Canadian Physicians for Life. “There is no proof that abortion improves health. There is no medical necessity where no medical benefit or health risk exists.”

Yet almost all abortions in Canada are funded by taxpayers. An abortion costs an estimated $800 on average (excluding any follow up visits or procedures). So the total annual cost to taxpayers is some $70-$90 million. The precise figure is unknown for two reasons: governments are secretive about costs and for-profit private clinics are not obligated to report abortion statistics.

It’s wrong, of course, that there is no public accounting of these taxpayer dollars. It is also hypocritical that many people who decry the bogeyman of two-tiered health care when private clinics offer general medical services openly support private clinics when they provide abortions.

There is little doubt where the public stands. Although studies consistently show majority acceptance of early-term abortion, two-thirds of Canadians believe either abortion should never be funded by tax dollars or only funded in cases of rape, incest or where a mother’s health is threatened. So a strong majority believe the vast majority of abortions are inappropriately funded.

That sad reality will be underlined by the young protesters who will peacefully gather at Queen’s Park. They will point out that for what Ontario alone spends each year on abortions, 200 family doctors could be hired. Public funding of abortion is harmful to the overall health of Canadians. To divert scarce health resources this way is by itself unethical but doing so in defiance of public sentiment makes it particularly offensive.

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