Obianuju Ekeocha, founder and president of Culture of Life Africa, in Ottawa in 2016, left, and Matthew Wojciechowski, project manager and UN expert at Campaign Life Coalition. Photos by Deborah Gyapong

Abortion provider gets $8 million from Canada, banned in two African nations

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  • December 6, 2018

OTTAWA – Pro-life advocates are outraged following an announcement that Canada will grant $8 million to Marie Stopes International (MSI), the world’s largest abortion and abortifacient drug provider which is under investigation in two African nations for illegal activity.

Matthew Wojciechowski, project manager and expert on United Nations policy with Campaign Life Coalition, called grants that promote abortion in the developing world “literally ideological colonization.”

It’s “worse than that” because “you’re spending Canadian tax dollars for agencies that use the tax money to undermine” that country’s sovereignty and the “rights and deeply held values of families that have been living there, their culture and traditions.”

Michel MacDonald, executive director of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, pointed out that MSI has been banned in Kenya and Niger “for promoting and providing abortion — actions which are illegal in both countries.”

Obianuju Ekeocha, founder and president of Culture of Life Africa, called it “very unfortunate that Western nations continue to ignore the voices of the majority of the African people who do not want and are not are asking for abortion, any kind of abortion care, as well as contraception.” 

“Africans are asking for food, education, clean water and security because of threats from terrorist groups in some of the African countries,” she said in a Skype interview from Britain. “We are not asking for condoms, contraception or sexuality education, that kind of advice, or abortion given to us by Western donors.” 

International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced the $8-million grant on Nov. 13 as part of a $104.4-million overall commitment made while attending the International Conference on Family Planning in Kigali, Rwanda. The money is part of $650 million Canada committed worldwide in March 2017 to fund reproductive health, including abortion.

Canada has given the British-based MSI a total of $24.3 million since 2017. The $8-million grant, which is not allocated for any specific country, is in addition to previous grants of $4 million for Sub-Saharan Africa and $12.3 million for projects in Tanzania.

On Nov. 27, Niger ordered the closure of two MSI facilities because of illegal abortions. According to a Reuters report, MSI did not respond to the accusations but said it is cooperating with authorities and other centres it operates in Niger remain open.  

Two weeks earlier, Kenyan authorities banned MSI from providing any type of abortion services after an investigation into a breach of advertising laws found that MSI reportedly violated the law by promoting abortion services over radio networks.

Abortion in Niger and Kenya is illegal unless a mother’s health is at risk. 

“It’s great to see two African countries standing up against Marie Stopes International,” said Ekeocha. “There are many more African counties that have begun to question the work of MSI in their villages and their cities.”

A spokeswoman for Global Affairs Canada said government policy does not permit funding abortions in countries where it is illegal. 

“Canada’s safe abortion programming is delivered in accordance with the legal and regulatory frameworks of the countries where we work,” said Maegan Graveline in an email. 

Ekeocha pointed out that even if Canadian grants are not directed specifically to countries where abortion is illegal, it frees up money for MSI to remain active in those countries.

“MSI has been caught out in violation of laws in different African countries,” Ekeocha said. “I would like Canadians to look again at the nature of what their government is doing internationally.”

MSI not only performs illegal abortions, money from its Western donors goes into lobbying African governments “so they come closer to legalizing abortion, giving them a bigger market for abortion,” Ekeocha said.

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