MONTREAL - Singer Peter Gabriel weighed in on Canada's abortion debate on Wednesday, saying he believes in the medical procedure, particularly for young rape victims in war zones.

The former Genesis frontman was asked what he thought about Canada's decision to not support funding for abortions in developing nations.

That position is part of the G8 family planning initiative Prime Minister Stephen Harper will champion at a meeting in June.

"Abortion is a very hot issue and people come down very strongly, one way or the other," Gabriel told a news conference on Wednesday just a few hours before the first of two shows in Montreal.

"I believe in abortion.... It's very difficult for us to judge, but from observation and talking to a lot of people and seeing the terrible lives some unwanted kids have, that's my personal belief."

Canada's stance on abortion has provoked sharp rebuke from the opposition in Ottawa and international aid agencies, who say it is irresponsible to deny the service to women in impoverished countries.

Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae pointed out earlier this week that rape is a well-honed weapon in wartorn regions of Africa. He said teenaged women in the Congo, for instance, are raped by the thousands.

Harper told the Commons there is plenty for Canada to spend its development dollars on besides abortion.

Gabriel was specifically asked what his reaction would be if Canada were to refuse to support abortions for teenagers being raped by combatants in the Congo.

"That would make me very angry because rape victims would be very high on the list of those people who have the right to ask for an abortion," he said.

Gabriel's visit to Montreal is one of only three North American stops on his New Blood tour which is promoted as featuring an orchestra and "no drums, no guitars."

"It's a bit like performing without any clothes," he explained.

"You're so used to being in among this roar of sound of guitars and drums, which I love, but the idea was to try to do something different here."

Gabriel's other two stops on the tour are New York City and Los Angeles.

He was also asked about his new "Scratch My Back" CD in which he covers songs by various artists including David Bowie, Paul Simon, Neil Young, as well as "My Body Is a Cage" by Montreal band Arcade Fire.

"I think they're a great band and it's emotional, atmospheric music and the lyric is very strong so it was something I could identify with quite easily," he said.

"I was thinking for a long time of trying to do a record of other people's songs and it seemed a lot more interesting if we could do some sort of exchange.

"I wanted to try to mix not just some old-timers like myself, but also some younger songwriters."

All artists featured on "Scratch My Back" are supposed to cover Gabriel's songs in return on a follow-up album.

"It's a bit like herding cats or lighthouse keepers," he said. "It's not an easy task and I'm not sure we're going to get all of them."