Obianuju Ekeocha

Obianuju Ekeocha

May 30, 2016

OTTAWA - The federal government says it will begin funding abortion in the developing world in order to help "the poorest and most vulnerable."

Amy Mills, a spokeswoman for Global Affairs Canada, said, "The government will close existing gaps in reproductive rights and health care for women as part of its commitment to refocus Canada's development assistance on helping the poorest and most vulnerable."

Mills said Canada supports the health care systems of countries in line with their legal frameworks and priorities. "Many governments allow abortion on request or for a variety of reasons including safeguarding the woman's health."

The federal government has committed $3.5 billion over the next five years to "ensure access to safe, reliable and high quality family planning services," she said in an email.

The restoration of abortion funding contrasts with that of Obianuju Ekeocha, a Nigerian biomedical scientist, founder and president of Culture of Life Africa, who spoke at the National March for Life and its annual Rose Dinner.

In an interview, Ekeocha said the vast majority of Africans oppose abortion as morally unacceptable. "They have decided that abortion is an attack on human life at its earliest stages.

"For a more developed country and a clearly wealthier nation bringing to us funding for abortion and a culture of abortion, it reeks of colonialization and it reeks of cultural imperialism."

While Mills said Canada is respecting local laws, Ekeocha said development funds often come with pressures from donor countries and philanthropic foundations to change those laws.

Ekeocha presented statistics from the Pew Research 2014 Global Morality Survey which showed that in her country, Nigeria, 80 per cent of those surveyed found abortion morally unacceptable and only two per cent see it as morally acceptable.

"This then means, if any powerful western nation was to come to African countries to fund abortions, they will have to first find a way to overpower up to 92 per cent of the population and they will be working against the will of the people," she said.

"A lot of the aid projects right now are coming with strings attached," she said. "They are heavily fettered to these new sets of values from the West.

"Those who resist are hit, punished some way or deprived."

She urged Canada to focus on areas that would help reduce maternal and infant and child mortality.

The World Health Organization has found more than 30 per cent of maternal deaths are due to bleeding following delivery, she said. "So how about more of the effort be put on improving blood banking systems in African nations?"