Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Minister of International Development, Marie-Claude Bibeau, defended Trudeau’s focus on abortion and contraception rather than famine relief in aid funding Tuesday calling abortion a “tool to end poverty.” Bibeau was responding to a letter from Canadian bishops strongly objecting to this “attempt to insinuate abortion advocacy in Canadian foreign policy.”
"Contraception and even abortion is only a tool to end poverty," Bibeau said in an interview with CTVNews during a Family Planning Summit in London. "We ... have to give [women] the control over their lives. So we shouldn't look at contraception as the objective. This is not the objective. This is only a tool to reduce poverty and inequality and to make an impact in terms of development and peace and security in the world."
"It's important to have the conversation with the religious leaders so we can understand each other," Bibeau added. "We have to have honest conversations with our religious leaders and I'm more than happy to have this discussion in Canada."
The June letter from the head of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Douglas Crosby, pointed out the $530.75 million discrepancy between the $650-million set aside for “abortion advocacy and sexual reproductive rights on a global scale,” and the “government’s response to the severe food shortages in South Sudan, Yemen, northeast Nigeria and Somalia, for which it had only pledged $119.25-million.”
“With respect to a foreign policy based on abortion advocacy and ‘sexual reproductive rights,’” Bishop Crosby wrote, “has Canada forgotten that for a considerable population (both within Canada and abroad) the unborn child is regarded as a human being created by God and worthy of life and love? This moral position can be found among Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Orthodox Christians, a number of Protestant Christians, Roman and Eastern Catholics, in addition to many other people of good will, including non-believers.”
“The idea that everyone can somehow just agree that abortion and contraception are universal human rights is neither convincing nor credible,” Crosby emphasized. “Indeed, even here at home, where we live side by side with peoples of so many different backgrounds, moral and religious traditions, the belief that there is universal agreement on a single set of Canadian values is itself contrived.”
“If Canada’s foreign policy needs a stable ground it cannot possibly be abortion advocacy and ‘sexual reproductive rights.’ And if the dignity of women is to have a universal moral foundation it cannot be based on principles that override the rights of the unborn child,” he concluded.
The Trudeau government seems unaffected by the bishop’s plea, announcing Tuesday over $18 million for a project in Mozambique to support abortion and family-planning services.
“It’s still a taboo in many regions, so some donors choose to invest in other areas. But even if it’s difficult, we have to do it. Canadians are well-placed to champion this issue – we are welcomed everywhere,” Bibeau told the Globe and Mail of the push to provide abortion and contraception to African countries.
Obianuju Ekeocha, the founder of Culture of Life Africa, a U.K.-based pro-life group, pushed back against the imposition of this agenda on African nations in an interview with BBC Tuesday night.
“An overwhelming majority of African people continue to reject abortion,” Ekeocha, a Nigerian-born biomedical scientist, said, referencing a Pew research poll showing large majorities opposed to abortion in African nations.
“I don’t think that any Western country has a right to pay for abortions in an African country especially where a majority of people don’t want abortion that then becomes a form of ideological colonization,” she argued.