Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Canadian leaders said they are prepared to increase international aid for women's health programs in the wake of a decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to cut $600 million in funding over his administration's opposition to abortion.
The announcement by Canadian International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau came on Friday, the same day thousands of anti-abortion protesters flooded the National Mall in Washington for the annual March for Life protest. Trump signaled his "full support" for the marchers and dispatched Vice President Mike Pence and adviser Kellyanne Conway to address the gathering.
One of Trump's first acts in office was to reinstate the so-called Mexico City Rule, an executive order banning all foreign aid to groups that provide access to abortion internationally. The rule has been rescinded and reinstated by alternating Democratic and Republican administrations since it first went into effect in 1984, under Republican President Ronald Reagan.
Speaking on Canadian television Friday, Bibeau said the liberal government would support an international effort led by the Dutch to replace the $600 million in U.S. aid by the rest of the international community. Bibeau did not say how much more the Canadian government is prepared to spend.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was scheduled to travel to Washington next week to meet with Trump, though it was not clear if the issue of foreign aid or abortion rights would be on the agenda.
Asked whether she was concerned Canada's support for abortion access, especially in the developing world, would sour U.S. relations, Bibeau said no.
"I think that restricting the access to abortion does not reduce abortion. It only increases the number of unsafe abortions and it endangers the lives of women," she said. "I believe we will be working together [with the United States] on some subjects and we will be less complimentary on others. On this one, we definitely don't agree. Women's rights is too important to make a compromise on that."