An official representing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau argued that abortion and contraception are a means to ending poverty.
Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau told CTVNews.ca in an interview Tuesday that the Canadian government rejected the protests of a group of Catholic bishops regarding their reproductive healthcare policies.
"Contraception and even abortion is only a tool to end poverty," argued Bibeau, adding that the Trudeau administration wants "to give [women] the control over their lives."
"This is only a tool to reduce poverty and inequality and to make an impact in terms of development and peace and security in the world."
Speaking to CTV at the Family Planning Summit in London, England, Bibeau also said that despite disagreement they still value the perspective of the Catholic Church on the matter.
"It's important to have the conversation with the religious leaders so we can understand each other," continued Bibeau.
"We have to have honest conversations with our religious leaders and I'm more than happy to have this discussion in Canada."
Bibeau was partly responding to concerns raised in a letter from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, which criticized the government for its staunch pro-choice policies.
Authored by CCCB President Douglas Crosby, the letter was sent out in late June and took issue with how the administration was spending more on foreign funding of abortion than on famine relief.
"The idea that everyone can somehow just agree that abortion and contraception are universal human rights is neither convincing nor credible," wrote Crosby.
"Indeed, even here at home, where we live side by side with peoples of so many different backgrounds, moral and religious traditions, the belief that there is universal agreement on a single set of Canadian values is itself contrived."
A self-identified Catholic, Trudeau announced in March that he was pledging approximately $650 million to fund abortions overseas.
"For far too many women and girls, unsafe abortions and lack of choices in reproductive health mean that they are either at risk, and at risk of death, or simply cannot contribute or achieve their potential through education, through involvement in their community, through a broad range of opportunities," stated Trudeau, as reported by the CBC.
"It is important that as a world we recognize that empowering women, that respecting their rights, is fundamental to building a world in which everyone has a real and fair chance to succeed."