On this, International Women’s Day, we do well to consider: what are we as a nation doing to address gender-based violence?
Last week Canada committed $20 million to a hastily organized “International Abortion Fund” so that women in developing countries would be able to access abortion services. Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s International Development Minister, told reporters on a conference call that the $20 million was just a start and was all she could get together on such short notice. Canada’s financial commitment was in response to the United States’ decision to cease funding organizations that facilitate abortion overseas. Considering what slow progress is made on addressing issues such as climate change and poverty, it was amazing to see how quickly international partnerships came together to signal solidarity with abortion providers in underdeveloped countries.
Canadians shouldn’t be surprised at this action by the Liberal government. After all, when he became leader, Justin Trudeau did announce that the Liberals were a “no choice-but-pro-choice” party when he declared a ban on pro-life candidates prior to the 2015 election.
It’s not just overseas that abortion access is important to this government. A few weeks ago Maryam Monsef, Canada’s new Status of Women Minister gave Planned Parenthood Ottawa $285,000 so they can use it to help women who face barriers to abortion. According to Ms. Monsef, any barriers to abortion constitute “gender-based violence”.
To be sure, Canadians deplore gender-based violence. It is an affront to the dignity of all human beings and we need bold leadership to address this ongoing challenge. But are we really addressing it by throwing tax dollars to local Planned Parenthood offices or into an international fund where we really have no control over what happens to it?
What if that money is actually contributing to gender-based violence? Internationally, and right here in Canada, there is a form of “reproductive choice” that is itself gender-based violence.
A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2016, and reported widely by the media, found that abortion is occurring in Canada based solely on the sex of the child. Most often a female fetus is aborted due to a preference for a male child. The study of more than 6 million births across Canada was received with shock and alarm by Canadians across the political spectrum.
Tripat Kaur, Coordinator of the Indo-Canadian Women’s Association, commented, “Sadly and unfortunately sometimes women don’t have any control…she’s forced to do that [abort her child because it’s a girl]. Prenatal sex-determination tests should be banned.” Amrita Mishra, the Project Coordinator for the Indo-Canadian Women’s Association responded to the study by saying, “This problem [sex-selective abortion] is very partially Indian, and hugely Canadian.”
Sex-selective abortion is an affront to the dignity of women and girls. It is gender-based violence. That is why countries around the world are taking steps to protect female fetuses from being discriminated against in such a violent manner. China, which is regularly called out for its human rights abuses, prohibits the use of ultrasound to identify the sex of the fetus unless it is necessitated on medical grounds. And, most recently the UK Parliament voted 181-1 for the introduction of a bill that clarified Britain’s law on sex-selective abortion.
Rather than virtue signaling by committing millions of dollars to fund abortion overseas (and very likely contributing to the global problem of gendercide) Canada’s leaders should bring Canada into line with international standards. They should tackle the injustice of gendercide by prohibiting the vilest form of gender-based violence – killing pre-born girls simply because they are girls.