After nearly three years of deliberating, Health Canada has approved Mifepristone for use in Canada. The process has not been without controversy, as it expands abortion services in a nation that is among the most radical in the world when it comes to the lack of protection for the preborn. Linepharma International, the small European drug manufacturer of the Mifepristone tablet, more commonly known as RU-486, faced obstacles right from the genesis of its foray into the Canadian market.
After numerous delays to Linepharma’s application, speculations arose that there was political interference going on. Indeed, in January of last year, Minister of Health, Rona Ambrose was challenged in the House of Commons by the NDP’s Niki Ashton as to why the approval of RU-486 was taking so long. Minister Ambrose replied: “Mr. Speaker, drug approval decisions are made by Health Canada scientists, not ministers or politicians.” Ms. Ambrose may find it convenient to abdicate herself of any responsibility regarding the now approved RU-486, but Canadians are not ready to let her off so easily.
The reality is the Minister of Health has an important role in the drug approval process. Health Canada is governed by the Food and Drugs Act and pursues its regulatory mandate under the Food and Drug Regulations. According to the Food and Drug Regulations, “No person shall sell or advertise a new drug unless the Minister has issued a notice of compliance to the manufacturer of the new drug in respect of the submission.” (Sec. C.08.002 of Food and Drug Regulations). In other words, the Minister had the final say on whether RU-486 could be sold or advertised in Canada.
In a subsequent section of the same Act we read: “The Minister shall, after completing an examination of a new drug submission issue a notice of compliance; or notify the manufacturer that the submission or supplement does not comply.” (Sec. C.08.004) It doesn’t get much clearer; Minister Ambrose has the ultimate authority and responsibility on which drugs are sold in Canada.
That the approval of a drug which expands access to abortion occurs under the watch of a Conservative government is not surprising. This government has an abysmal record of advancing pre-born human rights. Even with a majority of MPs in the House of Commons, the Conservatives have refused to pass anything close to a regulation on abortion. Canadian lawmakers seem oblivious to the reality that alongside North Korea and China, Canada remains one of only three countries in the entire world with zero laws protecting children in the womb.
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If left unchallenged, Health Canada’s decision will undoubtedly add to the over 100,000 lives lost to abortion every year in Canada. Fortunately, there is still time for the Conservatives to reach out to a large portion of their base. Polls consistently show that when Canadians are informed of the lack of abortion laws, a strong majority would favour changing that. In other words, Canada’s track-record on abortion is already far more radical than both a majority of Canadians and the international community would support. Expanding that to include access to the controversial abortion pill will only make this government more radical in its pro-abortion record. Pro-life Canadians will understandably be looking to Minister Ambrose to suspend the decision by Health Canada that approved a controversial abortion pill.
Can anything still be done? The Food and Drug Act contains provisions for the Minister of Health to issue an Interim Order if the Minister, “Believes that immediate action is required to deal with a significant risk, direct or indirect, to health, safety or the environment.” [30.1(1)] In addition to pre-born children being at ‘significant’ risk with the approval of RU-486, the lives of pregnant women are also subject to harm. In 2011 alone, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported 2200 adverse effects, including 14 deaths, 58 ectopic pregnancies, and hundreds of infections that required blood transfusions.
Abortion is a criminal matter. That is why the Supreme Court of Canada has given the nod to Parliament to craft a new abortion policy. It’s time the Conservatives, NDP, and Liberals realized how out of step they are when it comes to the protection of pre-born human rights. Why is it that lawmakers in every other Western nation can debate and pass abortion regulations with civility, but Canada’s political parties continue to treat pre-born children as a political liability, abandon responsibility and attempt to one-up each other in expanding the abortion regime?
The day will come when Canada’s mainstream political parties will understand that their refusal to properly address pre-born human rights doesn’t just hurt the pre-born and their mothers. It also will hurt them.
LifeNews Note: Mike Schouten is the director for WeNeedaLAW.ca, a public awareness campaign building support for the protection of pre-born human rights. He is a LifeNews.com blogger.