Believe it or not, abortive women are getting EI benefits

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation broke a story that shocked even most pro-lifers when it revealed in its Jan. 31 Let’s Talk Taxes communique that women who have abortions are eligible for employment insurance.

Under Service Canada regulations, women who have an abortion within the first 19 weeks of pregnancy are eligible for sick leave of up to 3.5 months, because the rules do not distinguish between a miscarriage and a surgical abortion. If a woman has an abortion in the 20th week or later, benefits are paid under the EI maternity leave program. If the “birth mother” signs a declaration of the “expected or actual date of birth,” she can collect maternity benefits for up to 3.5 months.

Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, told The Interim that initially, he could not believe the story, but when he confirmed the details, found it outrageous. “Giving maternity benefits to women who kill their unborn babies, who deny their own maternal instinct, makes a mockery of the program.” Hughes described as “Orwellian” the idea that a woman who has an abortion could collect “maternity benefits.”

Marie-Christine Houle, executive director of Women for Women’s Health, told The Interimthat while it made sense to grant benefits to women who had a miscarriage so they could have time to cope with their loss, giving maternity benefits “to women who have had lifestyle abortions is a grave injustice.”

Houle also said that providing sick leave for women who have early-term abortions equates pregnancy with illness, “which it definitely is not.” She explained that “pregnancy is not an illness to be treated, but a natural and necessary circumstance of reproduction.”

It is not only pro-lifers who are shocked at the EI program’s generosity to women who have had abortions.

John Williamson, executive director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, told The Interimit is “obscene that having an abortion at 20 weeks triggered maternity benefits. No birth, no benefits.”

He said it was a “perversion of the EI system,” explaining that employment insurance was designed to “provide benefits to people who, through no fault of their own, find themselves out of work.”

Williamson added that extending benefits to new mothers (and later fathers) was decided by an act of Parliament after debate by Canada’s elected officials. It served a compelling interest – allowing parents to bond with and rear their newborn children. “The government decided that parents should spend time with their children,” Williamson explained. “But it is altogether a different question with abortion.”

There is no evidence the issue was ever discussed in Parliament or approved by members of Parliament. Indeed, Williamson said no one in government contacted by the CTF was aware of the provision of benefits to women who have had abortions. One MP’s staffer contacted by The Interim thought we had made up the story when we contacted the office for a comment.

Williamson said the government tried to hide this policy, noting that the Service Canada guidelines refer to “termination of pregnancy” and do not mention the word abortion. He described the bureaucrats’ reaction to inquiries from the CTF about the program as ‘officially evasive,” explaining that they attempted to provide “a neutral view of what causes the termination.”

Women for Women’s Health’s Houle is willing to give the benefit of the doubt that the government is not trying to promote abortion with this program, but rather is trying to be equitable with women who give birth to their children, those who tragically lose them in a miscarriage and those who end their pregnancies with abortion. “But it is still obscene to call what are essentially abortion benefits ‘maternity benefits.’”

Williamson said he believes the extension of maternity benefits to aborted women is a “perversion grown within the bureaucracy” as an “attempt to be neutral on abortion.”

No one at Human Resources and Social Development Canada could answer how or when this program came into being or how many women who had abortions have claimed EI.

The CTF communique examined other abortion-funding issues. The Taxpayers Federation noted that governments pay for the abortion procedure, although it called upon the federal government to leave the decision to the provinces in accordance with the Canada Health Act.

It also noted that the government funds the International Planned Parenthood Federation through the Canadian International Development Agency, which distributes foreign aid. The CTF broke the story in November that CIDA gave Planned Parenthood an $18 million grant over four years for “sexual and reproductive health rights.” Williamson said the government must get out of the business of funding advocacy groups. He noted PP is an advocacy group and pointed to a recent Wall Street Journal article that stated Planned Parenthood is spending $10 million to influence the U.S. election. He said, “The Canadian government should not be sending tax dollars to advocacy groups that engage in political activism in Canada or elsewhere.”

In his communique – picked up by the National Post as a guest column – Williamson said, “The government is more involved in promoting abortion than Canadians realize.” That betrays the “assertion of abortion being a private matter between a woman and her doctor,” a “clever jingle“ that is “not entirely true. At least not as far as taxpayers are concerned.”

But the slogan that abortion is a private matter between a woman and her doctor and financed by the taxpayer is not nearly as compelling a line, he said.

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