Canada’s Liberal Government will top-up funding that provides money for international abortion services. At the “She Decides” conference in Brussels on Thursday, Canadian International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau agreed to contribute $20 million to make up for the shortfall created when President Donald Trump froze all financing for overseas abortion services.
The conference managed to raise almost $200 million to help offset the $600 million that the U.S. cut from the fund.
Along the way, organizers heaped abuse on “purely ideological decision” by the U.S. government to withdraw its support for the fund while the conference’s host, Belgium’s deputy premier Alexander De Croo, suggested Trump was sending women and girls in Africa “back to the Dark Ages” by not funding abortions.
Referring to “family planning” services and “reproductive health,” the conference suggested that the reduced financing will result in more unwanted pregnancies in developing nations and increased health risks from back alley abortions.
“All women have the right to choose whether and when they want to have children, and how many,” said Bibeau as she doled out the $20 million.
Abortion rights are a key concern for the Trudeau government, which has sought to increase access to abortion while approving of Canada’s unrestricted, abortion on demand policy that resulted when the Supreme Court of Canada overturned the country’s existing abortion law in 1988. Successive governments have either tried and failed to legislate a new law or simply not bothered to amend the status quo.
Just last month, Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef was castigated by pro-life forces for suggesting that abortion “empowers” women and that denying a woman an abortion is akin to “violence against women.”
Bibeau told reporters at the conference that new money to replace the cancelled American funding is “encouraging.” She suggested the ad hoc fund, proposed in the wake of the Trump funding cut, would continue to rise as other nations, who were not involved in the preparation of the last-minute conference, came forward to put money in the pot.
“This is only the beginning,” she said. “Stay tuned. There aren’t so many governments that can make significant commitments with only three weeks notice. This is really a first step.”
Bibeau emphasized that Canada’s foreign-aid strategy under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will concentrate on “women’s empowerment” through “sexual and reproductive health rights,” namely abortion.