Mr. Speaker, on several occasions just a few weeks ago, I asked the Conservative government and the Prime Minister about their position on maternal health. To be specific, on May 27, 2010, I asked this government about its decision to impose its own approach at the G8 and G20 summits, an approach that completely ignores global priorities and isolates Canada on the international scene. Medical authorities and scientific communities in all the G8 countries are calling for the inclusion of adequate measures to reduce the number of unsafe abortions and to improve family planning services.
The Minister for the Status of Women tries to reassure us with arguments that ignore the reality, a reality that makes our skin crawl. The statistics on maternal health are astonishing: there are 20 million unsafe abortions each year and over 70,000 women die every year, that is, 186 women a day, because of these unsafe abortions. Some 13% of maternal deaths are the result of unsafe abortions. Experts in the area of maternal health have also reported that a disproportionate number of the women who die are between the ages of 15 and 19. When these young mothers die, their children become orphans, and as one might expect, this leads to development problems. Also, these orphans are 10 times more likely to die prematurely.
Ignoring the advice of Canadian and international specialists including CIDA, UNICEF and World Vision, this government excluded abortion funding from its G8 maternal and child health initiative. The Conservative government has only one goal in mind: pleasing its religious right electoral base.
We need to make it very clear that the Conservative government is isolating Canada from other developed countries and breaking with a 25-year-old Canadian tradition by imposing its anti-abortion ideology on developing countries. Last April, while visiting Canada, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed her disdain for the Conservative policy, as did the British foreign affairs minister and other G8 partners, who feel the same way.
This change in Conservative policy also led to the elimination of funding for Canadian NGOs that provide a range of essential, life-saving services to women and children in poor countries and promote appropriate family planning.
Furthermore, this change in policy has brought about a new child and youth strategy in the Canadian International Development Agency that does not include the sexual health of adolescents in developing countries even though sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and the risk of pregnancy figure prominently in their day-to-day lives.
By failing to include sexual health in the strategy, this government is ignoring the reality that the sexual health of adolescents in all developing countries is a key component of their health.
The Conservative government's about-face on the longstanding Canadian tradition of support to aid groups that provide—