ST. JOHN’S, CANADA, October 6 (CNA) – A Catholic maternal health group has been denied Canadian government funding for the eleventh time in nearly a decade, while organizations such as Planned Parenthood receive millions from the country.
“We were told that we would never get funding simply because we wouldn’t provide reproductive health-that we were ‘too Catholic’ and too close to the Pope,” Dr. Robert Walley, president of Matercare International, told CNA.
MaterCare International, which has been operating since 1985, had requested $2.2 million in funding to open a hospital near its thriving clinic in Isiolo, Kenya. “We’ve done all of this work,” Walley said, “it’s existing, it’s standing there.”
Adding insult to injury, Walley-a prominent physician who was appointed by Pope John Paul II to serve on the Pontifical Council for Health-was asked for his input on the Muskoka initiative as it was being organized.
“I was invited to the Prime Minister of Canada’s office to brief and advise about this initiative” before being denied funding, he recalled. “It’s insulting, really.”
Walley also said that MaterCare being refused money based on its Catholic stance against abortion and contraception is a complete non-issue and should have no influence in the agency’s decision.
“Abortion and birth control are irrelevant to solving the problem of maternal mortality,” he underscored.
“All the deaths occur during the last three months of pregnancy during labor and delivery and one week after-so what on earth is a birth control pill or a condom going to do?”
Stressing the urgency of the issue, Walley explained that maternal mortality is “the number one health problem among women of the child bearing age in the world.” A close second is the devastating and socially ostracizing condition of fistulas, which can occur during birth and only be fixed by an operation.
Walley said that in the West, only around 1 in 10,000 women are at risk of death during childbirth, “but in parts of Africa it’s 1 in 7.” To ignore the problem or to obstruct others in their attempt to solve it “is a form of violence to women.”
So much for Harper “not opening the abortion debate”. He’s already shut us out of the debate and now he has shut out those who refuse to promote abortions from receiving funding to do real life-saving work.