May 4, 2010

‘Shut the f--- up’ on Abortion says Conservative Senator

CANADA/HEALTH - Conservative senator Nancy Ruth is telling Canadians to “shut the f--- up” on the issue of abortion. “If you push it, there will be more backlash,” she said in a thinly veiled threat yesterday at a gathering on on Parliament Hill.

Wait... so the Conservative Party's secret agenda of trashing pro-choice and making abortion illegal has finally come to light? Is Stephen Harper declaring war on abortion and the rights of mothers to choose?

And apparently Canadians are just supposed to "shut the f--- up" on the issue? No democracy? No freedom of speech? No human rights for women? Just do what you told... as if we're living in a dictatorship.

Last week, Stephen Harper’s government announced that it would no longer be supporting abortion as any part of its foreign-aid focus on maternal health, even though abortion is currently legal in Canada. It was a surprise flip-flop for a prime minister who typically avoids controversial issues in the hopes of eventually winning a majority government.

But lo and behold the gloves have come off. If the Conservative Party were to win a majority government abortion and freedom of choice would be an issue on the table.

And the silly thing is because of Canada's voting system the additional parties like the Greens and the NDP could end up causing vote splitting which in the past have very nearly handed the Conservative Party a majority even though their popularity is only hovering around 30%.

Meanwhile a whopping 70 to 80% of Canadians support a woman's right to choose in the matter of abortion. Making abortion a political issue is arguably political suicide... but on the other hand the Conservative Party is really well funded from the Alberta oil industry and thanks to vote splitting have managed to get within hands reach of a majority government twice now.

Senator Ruth's remarks, whether you consider them to be advice, warning or a thinly veiled threat, were met with gasps of disbelief on Parliament Hill. It was nothing short of an ultimatum on the issue of abortion: "Shut up or we'll make abortion illegal."

Her intention however seems to have backfired.

“We have shut the f--- up. That’ s the issue here,” said Joanna Kerr, the chief executive of Action Aid International, based in South Africa.

“There’s a real chill in Ottawa on speaking out,” said Betty Plewes, a development consultant and chairperson of Monday’s meeting, organized around the question of “where is Canada’s leadership in the promotion of gender equality and women’s rights?”

“I don’t remember any women’s rights ever gained by staying silent,” said Lydia Alpizar Duran, from the Association of Women’s Rights in Development, who vowed that Canadian women would have help from other countries if they want to start making noise here.

This is not the first time the Conservatives have cut funding to women's programs. When first elected in 2006 one of the first things Stephen Harper and his party did was cut all funding to women's programs which provide shelter to battered and abused women.

“These are very dark days for women or for any Canadian citizen who looks at our place in the world and wonders: ‘what are we saying to the rest of the world about what we care about’?” said Elizabeth May, the Green Party leader and the source of some of the vote splitting which has resulted in the Conservatives nearly winning a majority government.

So what are Canadian women to do? Shut up and just do what they're told? That is essentially slavery.

FACT: Approx. 76% of Canadian women who have abortions are under the poverty line. They can't afford to have children and there isn't enough government support for single mothers. The majority of these women already have children and are barely making ends meet, a problem worsened by the fact many of these women are unmarried and uneducated.

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