Two Catholic bishops in Canada are calling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's latest overseas abortion policy a "reprehensible example of Western cultural imperialism."
The statement follows an announcement from Trudeau last week that the Canadian government will spend $650 million (U.S. $483 million) on sex education, improving reproductive health and offering family-planning services, to include abortion, in developing countries, according to The Independent.
"Like men, women should be able to choose; to choose when they want to start a family, how big their family should be and who they want to start that family with," Trudeau said last week during a speech on International Women's Day, the National Post reported.
The policy was immediately criticized by Bishop Douglas Crosby, president of the Canadian bishops conference, and Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto.
"Such a policy is a reprehensible example of Western cultural imperialism and an attempt to impose misplaced but so-called Canadian 'values' on other nations and people," Crosby wrote, according to Christian Today. "It exploits women when they are most in need of care and support and tragically subverts true prenatal health care."
It negates our country's laudable efforts to welcome refugees and offer protection to the world's homeless, when the youngest of human lives will instead be exterminated and the most vulnerable of human beings discarded as unwanted human tissue.
And in his own letter, Collins said it was "praiseworthy" to offer international aid but said it is "arrogant for powerful, wealthy nations to dictate what priorities developing countries should embrace."
"Money spent on promoting abortion and contraception could be spent on vaccinating millions of women and girls against malaria or other diseases," he wrote, adding that the funding "could help build a lot of schools or universities, pathways to knowledge for future female leaders of our world."
"Surely, we can do better than imposing a distorted vision of the empowerment of women on the people of countries that deserve our support to respond effectively to the challenge of their most pressing needs," he said.
The Catholic leaders were not the only ones to criticize the spending. Parliament Member Rona Ambrose, the interim leader of the Conservative Party, called the funding "divisive," given not every country that receives the Canadian aid supports abortion.
"We’ve always taken the position that this is not just divisive, but illegal, in a lot of the countries that we give aid to," she said. "Our position was always, 'Let’s stick to things that we know will bring people together and everyone can support,' which was the maternal and child health initiative."
Trudeau's decision to increase its spending from past years came on the heels of President Donald Trump's January decision to reinstate the so-called "global gag rule," which bars foreign aid from going to nongovernmental organizations that provide, promote or pay for abortions.
"With these new funds, Canada is doubling its current investment to help close existing gaps in reproductive rights and health care for women," Trudeau said.