UNFPA and Abortion Advocacy
The Government currently makes an annual contribution of €4.5m+ to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). No doubt the intentions are sincere and seeking to reduce maternal mortality in developing countries is an extremely laudable goal. Notwithstanding this, the UNFPA’s record in the whole area of human rights is a cause for much concern.
The pretence that the UNFPA is not pursuing an ideological agenda in favour of abortion advocacy must be challenged. Despite repeated assurances from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Development, the evidence against UNFPA is overwhelming.
The UNFPA is essentially, as its title denotes, not a charitable agency but one dedicated to population limitation.
Holding UNFPA to account
Until President Obama’s election, the United States withheld funding the UNFPA for the past seven years. The earmarked funds were redirected to other programmes such as the USAID Global Health and Child Survival account.
The US began withholding its donation in 2002 upon receiving evidence that UNFPA was complicit in China’s brutal one-child policy and allegations of its involvement in promoting abortion as a means of population control in developing countries.
A recent Gallup poll in the US shows that the decision of the new President to recommence funding groups like UNFPA is extremely unpopular with the public. 58% oppose Obama's decision, while only 35% support it.
While UNFPA continue to deny the charges, over the past ten years or so, the US Congress and State Department have produced evidence showing UNFPA complicity in the Chinese “One Child” policy. In 1998 congressional hearings recorded evidence of forced sterilisations, forced abortions and extra judicial detentions for those who did not comply with the Chinese government’s policy. All this was happening while the UNFPA was aiding the Chinese population programme and denying there was any coercion. In 2001, a further hearing determined that coercion was still a key part of Chinese policy.
The Peruvian Congress appointed a Commission to investigate similar abuses. The investigation found significant human rights violations involving the UNFPA financially, strategically and technically. The Mexican National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has also denounced UNFPA for its role in coercive family planning programmes in Mexico.
Pro-abortion groups in receipt of UNFPA funding
In 2005, UNFPA gave the International Planned Parenthood Federation over $160,000. International Planned Parenthood Federation is one of the largest and richest abortion providers and advocacy groups in the world.
In 2006, UNFPA donated $50,000 to the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), a non-profit pro-abortion law firm located in New York, which is active in trying to change abortion laws around the world.
CRR has been one of the most active and effective abortion lobbying organizations internationally. In 2006 alone, the CRR was involved in 22 cases in the US and abroad on the abortion issue, including the overturning of Colombia’s ban on abortion in 2006.
UNFPA has also been directly involved in national abortion debates. UNFPA, in concert with other international institutions, attempted to intervene in Nicaragua’s abortion debate, sending a letter to the national assembly last year asking the government to reconsider its ban on abortion.
“Women Deliver” Conference in London
In 2007, the UN-sponsored conference “Women Deliver”, billed to address maternal and child health, focused primarily on promoting abortion. The conference schedule shows that out of 98 sessions some 35 of them focused on abortion while only two addressed newborn health. The conference lasted from October 18-20, 2007.
In attendance were the executive directors of UNFPA as well as leading abortion providers such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Marie Stopes International and numerous other abortion advocacy groups from across the globe.
The second day’s plenary session featured Frances Kissling, former president of “Catholics for a Free Choice”, and Gill Greer, director-general of the IPPF. On the final day of the conference, the plenary session was entirely devoted to top abortion providers such as Marie Stopes International.
Dr. Robert Walley, ObGyn, Executive Director of MaterCare International said, “It is ridiculous to address abortion and contraception at a conference about maternal mortality. By definition, a maternal mortality involves a pregnant woman, not a pregnancy that has been avoided or aborted. We have known for many years how to help prevent a woman’s death by emergency obstetrics and skilled birth attendants. It is a shame that these leaders want to divert attention from the real needs of women — giving her the best of obstetrical care based on life, hope, and the dignity of motherhood.”
Misusing the term “reproductive rights”
UNFPA has been a key player in drafting and promoting programmes to create universal access to "reproductive health services" and “reproductive rights”, terms used by UN agencies and committees as synonymous with abortion.
The UN’s Convention on the Elimination Against Women (CEDAW) also interprets the widely used phrase “reproductive rights” as including abortion, though the UN General Assembly has never defined it that way. If one is in any doubt, look at the way the CEDAW Committee repeatedly chastises Ireland for not allowing abortion in this country.
Given how widely accepted and understood the term “reproductive rights” has become in UN circles, countries that for convenience sake refuse to acknowledge the full import of the term, rightly stand accused of being complicit in any abortions or coercive practices which take place under UNFPA programmes.
Ireland’s Record on Maternal Mortality
The latest report on Maternal Mortality (published in 2007), produced by the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, UNFPA and the World Bank, found that of all 171 countries for which estimates were made, Ireland where no abortion regime exists is also the safest country in the world in which to be pregnant.
Ireland, therefore, is a world leader in maternal health care and is in a position to make a very valuable contribution to the debate. The latest figures are an immense tribute to Ireland's medical profession, which cares for both mother and baby during pregnancy. Indeed women are safer in Ireland when pregnant than countries like Britain and Holland, which allow abortion on demand.
The most recent report on Maternal Mortality also knocks on the head the notion that legalised abortion is the answer to reducing maternal deaths in poorer developing countries. What is needed instead is a more sincere commitment from wealthy countries to fund better maternal care in developing countries in place of ideological campaigns from the UNFPA and its associates to make abortion more widely available.
Given the very legitimate concerns about UNFPA funding, there is a responsibility on the Government to scrutinise much more closely the workings of the agency. Pending the investigation, Government funding to UNFPA should be suspended.
Some of the earmarked funds could be redirected to groups like Mater Care and Maternal Life International, which engage exclusively in improving maternal health care programmes in developing countries.