Question Period: Why is Conservative Ideology Trumping the Needs of Women?

Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, the government has settled on a completely irresponsible policy on women's and maternal health. This policy not only fails women abroad on the key issue of access to safe abortions, it is reopening a very divisive debate domestically and putting us at odds with our international partners. Both Britain and the Obama administration in the U.S. have been very clear that access to safe abortions must be part of the maternal health initiative.

Why will the government not put the interests of our country and of women everywhere ahead of its own Conservative ideology?

Hon. Jim Abbott (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to read the ideology of people who are actually involved in this. They say:

With an investment at the community level, where women and children are best able to access health care, the G8 initiative can prevent the deaths and improve the health of millions of children and women. Providing families with access to proven low cost health interventions can ensure healthier pregnancies and prevent illness and death from such diseases as malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia.

(*Note, the Minister failed to identify who the "they" are he was "quoting")

That is the ideology we are following.

Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, it is not for the Conservative government to tell women in developing countries, or anywhere, what they can and cannot do to maintain their health.

According to the World Health Organization, 13% of maternal deaths in poor countries are the result of unsafe abortions. Yet, while abortion services are available in Canada, the government refuses to advocate the same rights for women abroad. It is offensive, irresponsible and unacceptable.

Will the government stop dictating its ideologically driven Conservative policies to women abroad?

Hon. Jim Abbott (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, I will tell the member what is offensive and irresponsible. It is hearing the same question from all three members of the coalition. It is those members who want to create a debate in Canada that no one wants...