Pro-lifers win, Obama loses in UN abortion battle

by Leigh Jones
Posted 1/23/13, 01:30 pm

Pro-life advocates at the United Nations have succeeded in halting U.S. efforts to list abortion as an international right that member nations could be forced to uphold.

Speaking at a recent panel discussion on “reproductive rights,” U.S. State Department population policy advisor Beth Schlachter told abortion advocates their “vocal and well-coordinated” opponents made it impossible for the Obama administration to push for “sexual rights,” according to a report from the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM).

Last year, eight UN member nations joined the Vatican to block any mention of reproductive rights and population control in a strategy document that emerged from the Rio +20 planning conference in Rio De Janeiro. Abortion activists hoped to link population control and reproductive rights to policies promoting sustainable development.

But as representatives from Nicaragua noted, every nation knows “reproductive rights” is code at the UN for abortion, C-FAM reported.

The surprise show of pro-life solidarity in Rio prompted the Obama administration to suspend plans to take reproductive policies a step further by promoting “sexual rights,” which would protect the right of children as young as 10 to make their own decisions about sex and reproduction.

Despite the setback, Schlachter assured panel discussion participants the administration remained committed to supporting reproductive health and reproductive rights and linking them to the idea of population dynamics. U.S. officials will continue to push for the less encompassing reproductive rights until the UN adopts the language. Only then will it begin to pursue sexual rights, Schlachter said.

In November, reproductive rights activists succeeded in persuading the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to describe contraceptives as a “human right” in its annual report. UNFPA also called on countries to provide more money for “family planning” services, essentially paying for contraceptive drugs for any woman who wants them. The UNFPA does not have the ability to add contraceptives to the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Former President George W. Bush blocked funding to the UNFPA amidst allegations that the agency was indirectly subsidizing forced abortions. But President Barack Obama, on one of his first days in office in 2009, restored full funding to the UNFPA, about $40 million a year.

Leigh Jones

Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is the news editor for The World and Everything in It and reports on education for WORLD Digital.

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