Canada and Sweden’s Misguided Abortion Crusade

Anti-abortion protesters place signs in a pile during the National March for Life in Ottawa (Reuters: Chris Wattie)
They aim to counteract Trump’s Mexico City policy, and claim to be fighting poverty in the process.

The governments of Canada and Sweden are fighting for the right to kill the unborn in the developing world. Canada has allotted almost $250 million to this cause, and that’s less than half of the money Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has pledged. Similarly, the head of Sweden’s International Development Cooperation Agency said the agency would not support organizations that refuse to counsel or perform abortions.

It seems Trump’s reinstatement of the Mexico City policy — which forbids foreign aid to organizations that promote abortion — has set off a race among countries that would like to be the world’s abortion saviors. Preferential treatment for international abortion providers has even come at the expense of funding poverty and famine relief. While Trudeau has promised $650 million to support abortion-promoting organizations, his government has committed less than $120 million to fighting food shortages in South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria, and Somalia. The president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Douglas Crosby, chastised the government in a letter to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister:

The UN, meanwhile, was already calling the situation in these regions [South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria, and Somalia] the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II, with 20 million people at risk of starvation. Should this unfolding disaster not have prompted the Prime Minister to prioritize relief and aid over politicking at the lavish expense of hardworking taxpayers in Canada?

I expect Bishop Crosby’s letter fell on deaf ears because Trudeau and his Swedish counterparts don’t see any problem. As it stands, Canada’s minister of international development thinks abortion is a “tool to end poverty.”

Built into the flawed moral reasoning behind this belief is a Malthusian supposition that overpopulation causes poverty and hunger. Malthus’s theories, however, have been debunked time and again. Indeed, the World Food Bank doesn’t even list overpopulation as one of six main causes of hunger. The other key assumption is that the unborn — the ultimate paradigm of the weak and defenseless — have no right to live and thus may be killed to reduce others’ poverty. This is the epitome of a “throwaway” ideology that does away with those deemed useless.

Besides not addressing poverty’s root causes, abortion only creates a new problem: It fosters a culture of death. Rather than upholding the dignity of life, especially the lives of the most vulnerable, abortion dictates that life is subordinate to choice and the will of others. Promoting abortion, therefore, would only compound the problem of poverty by failing to cultivate the view that life is sacrosanct.

Canada and Sweden believe it is their progressive duty to civilize the developing world by foisting abortion upon it.

Put more bluntly, trying to conquer one social ill by encouraging another is more apt to amplify suffering than to rectify it.

And then, of course, there is the ironic stench of progressive neo-colonialism lurking nearby. Most of the money Canada is pledging, after all, is directed toward Africa. Obianuju Ekeocha, president of Culture of Life Africa, noted that nations trying to impose abortion on Africa are “not listening to us.” Indeed, a Pew Research survey from 2013 found overwhelming opposition to abortion in most of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa that it covered.

Canada and Sweden believe it is their progressive duty to civilize the developing world by foisting abortion upon it. They are beholden to an ideology of sexual “liberation” that places its agenda of total autonomy against the lives of unborn children, and now even above effective poverty relief.

But I guess that’s what it means to be civilized these days.


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Jeff Cimmino — Jeff Cimmino is an editorial intern at National Review. He is a junior pursuing a B.A. in history and a minor in government at Georgetown University. Cimmino was the founding ...

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