By Marie Smith
In a video message yesterday, U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addressed the last day of the Women Deliver 2016 conference in Copenhagen. It is self-described as “the world’s largest global conference on the health, rights, and well being of girls and women in the last decade,” and the first such gathering since the launch of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Hillary Clinton’s message entitled A Purpose-Driven Life was described as
“A thought-provoking video from Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on women’s rights as human rights, and how to translate that vision from the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing to action in the 21st century.”
Clinton called for renewed efforts to “break down the barriers holding back women and girls around the world” and stated, “Gender equality, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, must be a core priority.”
Her message comes at a strategic time as the world is seeking to implement measures to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and ensure by 2030 “universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services” and “Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights” as stated in the goals on health and gender equality.
Intense debate has taken place at the United Nations over the terms “reproductive health-care services” and “reproductive rights” which are believed by most to include access to abortion. Concern continues over the yet to be completed indicators which will be used to monitor a country’s progress on achieving the goals and targets.
It is well-known that Clinton has long supported abortion on demand throughout pregnancy calling it not only a woman’s right, a human right and a ‘reproductive right’ but unabashedly proclaimed in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in April 2009 that “reproductive health includes access to abortion” [See here].
Activists have pushed for expansion of the sexual and reproductive agenda since the 1995 Women’s Conference in Beijing when Clinton led the US delegation as First Lady. In her remarks she referenced Beijing and stated,
“And the gains we’ve made since then prove that progress is possible. But as you all know too well, our work is far from finished. This is an important moment as we chart a course to meet the new Sustainable Development Goals. We have to break down the barriers holding back women and girls around the world.”
Laws and policies that ban, restrict, or regulate abortion and religious and cultural beliefs that value life from the moment of conception are all “barriers to progress” from the pro-abortion point of view.
Clinton continued that in order to break down the barriers “we need greater political will and resources” and praised the conference stating, “The Women Deliver summit is critical to this work.”
Among the 5,500 attendees to the four day conference were HRH Crown Princess Mary and Prime Minister of Denmark HE Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the heads of UNFPA and UN Women, parliamentarians from over 50 countries, leaders of NGOs, health experts, donors including Melinda Gates, business leaders, youth and activists from 168 countries.
Abortion was a topic of official discussion and dominated side events hosted by leading abortion promoters and providers including Ipas, IPPF, and Marie Stopes.
Abortion-related topics during the conference and at side events included:
- Increasing Access to Safe Abortion: Solutions from the Front Line
- Working with Faith Leaders on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
- Innovations to increase access to safe abortion
- A 21st-Century Agenda for SRHR
- Supporting Expanded Roles for Abortion services by Healthcare workers
- The Private Sector Role in Safe Abortion Provision
- Sexual and Reproductive Rights Within Communities
- Tackling Stigma to Increase Women’s Abortion Access and Rights
- Partnering with Police to Improve Abortion Access
Editor’s note. This comes from the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues.