Sunday, March 6, 2011

Rightwing Ideology: Life Begins at Conception But Ends at Birth

"These proposals included cries for billions of new money for social assistance in the name of “child poverty” and for more business subsidies in the name of “cultural identity”. In both cases I was sought out as a rare public figure to oppose such projects.” (Stephen Harper, The Bulldog, National Citizens Coalition, February 1997)

Gloria Steinem was on Bill Maher this week and they were discussing rightwing/Tea Party ideology.

Their latest protests centre on the abortion issue, and the recent drive to force those considering abortion to have a sonogram first. The idea of course is the belief that once a pregnant woman or girl hears her baby's heartbeat, she will change her mind.

The Tea Party/conservative movement is nothing if not a lesson in paradox, because while they demand that the government stays out of their lives, they are forcing government intervention on the lives of women.

They are even holding public rallies with a pregnant woman on stage hooked up to a sonogram, and a voice over of the baby talking to the crowd.

But Steinem made a very compelling statement, when it comes to the rightwing and the abortion issue. She said that for them "life begins at conception and ends at birth". That's it in a nutshell. Because the new 'right' philosophy is all about ending social programs. They don't care about poverty. In their judgement if you're poor it's because you're lazy.

They just want those babies born.

In 2006 Michael Ignatieff wrote a piece for MacLeans magazine in which he said, in part:
Canadians have created a distinctly progressive political culture in North America. We believe in universal rights of access to publicly funded health care; we believe in the protection of group rights to language; in group rights to self-determination for Aboriginal peoples; we believe in the equality rights of all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation, including rights to marriage. Strong majorities of Canadians believe that while abortion should be rare, it should be a protected right for all women. (1)
Few challenged his statements because they were a fair representation of who we are as Canadians. And our views have not really changed, as a recent survey suggests. What has changed is a politicians ability to express those views.

When Ignatieff suggested that Canada's maternal health initiative should include safe abortions, he was accused of promoting eugenics, suggesting that he was trying to decrease the black African population, forgetting that unsafe abortions are doing just that. It has been established that 36,000 women die annually from unsafe abortions in Africa. Good child bearing women, something tea party logic should be fighting against happening.

Many of these women were raped, as that is increasingly becoming common as a weapon of war. Something our foreign service can no longer speak of due to the change in the language of our foreign policy. According to Adrian Bradbury with DFAT:
Make no mistake, these semantic changes represent fundamental shifts to Canadian foreign policy. Each of the banned or altered terms carry with it significant policy implications, most related to the international human rights agenda. For example, when speaking of the war in the DRC, where upwards of 3 million people have been killed, and rape is widely used as a tool of war, the terms "impunity" and "justice" can no longer be used when calling for an end to, and punishment for, sexual violence.
And the Harper government has also reduced foreign aid to Africa, so again, their interest in a woman's reproductive rights, end at birth.

The abortion issue discussed on Bill Maher, included the Tea Party/conservatives attack on Planned Parenthood. And while only 2% of PP's mandate includes abortion, it is estimated that if it is dismantled, abortions would actually increase by about 40,00 a year.

In Canada, Stephen Harper and Stockwell Day have already eliminated funding to this organization. In 2006, they received $1,285,674 in federal grants, while in 2009, only $9,381.

Furthermore, Conservative Brad Trost circulated a petition to go after the International Planned Parenthood Federation in November of 2009 and in 2010:
One of the world’s biggest health-care providers for vulnerable women appears to have fallen victim to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s zero tolerance policy on abortion. In London, International Planned Parenthood Federation is waiting for a call from Canada that will preserve life-saving programs that help 31 million women and children.
Again this is very short sighted, and yet another case where ideology trumps factual information.

Because of organizations like Planned Parenthood in Canada , between 1996 and 2006, the abortion rate in young women, saw a sharp decline. Canada’s teen birth and abortion rate drops by 36.9 per cent. Preaching abstinence doesn't work.

So if the Tea Party/conservative movement was serious about tackling the abortion issue, they would promote safe sex, the eradication of child poverty and income disparity.

And if you think that in 2006, Michael Ignatieff was only saying what he thought we wanted to hear to get elected, this is what he wrote of poverty in 2000, just three years after Stephen Harper boasted that he was a rare public figure who wasn't afraid to speak out against public money going to fight child poverty.
.... abundant societies that could actually solve the problem of poverty seem to care less about doing so than societies of scarcity that can't. This paradox may help to explain why the rights revolution of the past forty years has made inequalities of gender, race, and sexual orientation visible, while the older inequalities of class and income have dropped out of the registers of indignation. Abundance has awakened us to denials of self while blinding us to poverty. We idly suppose that the poor have disappeared. They haven't. They've merely become invisible. (2)
Another fundamental difference between Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff.


1. Michael Ignatieff: what I would do if I were the Prime Minister: From Afghanistan to Quebec, education to the environment, Ignatieff lays out his bold, progressive vision for Canada. A Maclean's exclusive, September 01, 2006

2. The Rights Revolution: CBC Massey Lectures, By Michael Ignatieff, Anansi Books, 2000, ISBN: 978-0-88784-762-2, Pg. 92

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