U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waded into a global discussion about maternal health Tuesday, saying any discussion has to include contraception, family planning and access to abortion.
Clinton's comments came in a news conference at the conclusion of a G8 foreign ministers meeting in Gatineau, Que. As she began her answer to a reporter's question, Clinton made it clear she was not going to join any discussion about specific Canadian government policies.
"I'm not going to speak for what Canada decides," Clinton said as she sat beside Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon.
Earlier this month, Cannon said that Ottawa's new maternal health initiative for developing countries wouldn't include contraception. Two days later Prime Minister Stephen Harper clarified the policy, saying it would allow it.
For her part, Clinton said her viewpoint had been shaped by experience.
"I have worked in this area for many years," Clinton said. "You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health, and that includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortions."
Clinton also said that those people concerned about abortion should make sure women have access to family planning.
"I do not think government should be involved in these decisions," Clinton said, adding that in her opinion "it is perfectly legitimate for people to hold their own personal views based on conscience, religion or any other basis."
As she continued in her remarks, Clinton also took issue with countries such as China where, she said, a one-child policy has, at times, led to the "abhorrent" practice where the "policy is implemented by forced abortions."