Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to stand here and follow up on a question I asked on June 2, 2010.
Some members may recall that I asked the Minister of International Cooperation to elaborate on comments she made at the Standing Committee on the Status of Women on May 26. At that time, she quoted the Cairo plan of action on population and development as it related to maternal health. I asked her quite deliberately why she had neglected one sentence. She quoted one sentence, skipped one sentence and moved on to the next.
I want to read into the record the sentence the minister neglected to say at committee and that she would not elaborate on in the House. While she was talking about the plan of action, she quoted the sentence that said:
In no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning.
However, she chose to omit the following sentence:
All Governments and relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations are urged to strengthen their commitment to women’s health, to deal with the health impact of unsafe abortion as a major public health concern and to reduce the recourse to abortion, through expanded and improved family planning services.
I said at the time that the minister cannot pick and choose what sentences to use when she is quoting an international agreement. In doing so, she deliberately did not provide full information either to committee members or to members of the House.
I want to reiterate that when we deal with maternal health and unsafe abortion, we have to remember that there are 20 million unsafe abortions each year. Unsafe abortions are in fact a leading cause of maternal death, and we have learned that a disproportionate number of the women who die are between the ages of 15 and 19.
As I indicated, 13% of total maternal deaths are from abortion, and 68,000 women die every year from unsafe abortions. That breaks down to 186 every day, or one every eight minutes. We also know that maternal deaths result in motherless children, who have a higher mortality rate. They are 10 times more likely to die prematurely.
I could cite many of the experts who appeared before the committee and talked about the full range of reproductive health services that are required for women when dealing with maternal health for women worldwide. It is incumbent upon a minister, in providing information, either to a committee or to the House, to provide the full information and to not be selective in what she chooses to say or not say.