By Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Global Outreach
On Monday, MCCL GO spoke at a listening session held by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington. The session concerned the upcoming World Health Assembly in Geneva.
We urged the United States to positively defend and prioritize life during the Assembly.
Here is the full text of MCCL GO’s prepared statement:
The World Health Organization recently passed a resolution stating, “To promote physical and mental health and well-being and to extend life expectancy for all, we must achieve universal health coverage and access to quality health care. No one must be left behind.” (EB138.R5)
It is imperative that when we say “leave no one behind” that we show we truly mean it by our actions. All human beings from conception until natural death should have access to health care—with extra protection for those who are most vulnerable.
Recent statements from the United States—such as “we have stated clearly and on many occasions, consistent with the ICPD Program of Action, that we do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning”—are very good, but it is important to go beyond that.
A wealth of research has demonstrated the importance of the first 1,000 days of life—the period from conception to the second birthday. Mothers and babies especially need quality health care through pregnancy and delivery. Too many women and babies continue to die; we can and must do better. Sharing our own in-country experiences with others around the globe is one of the true assets of WHO and the annual WHA.
In my own state of Minnesota, we have seen a dramatic reduction in the number of abortions as we increase education, support, and aid for pregnant women. From a high of nearly 20,000 annual abortions in Minnesota in the 1980s to under 10,000 recently—this decrease has an explanation. By implementing informed consent, parental involvement, and a unique grant program, the number of lives hurt or ended by abortion has fallen dramatically.
Prior to implementation of our parental involvement law, we had 2,327 teen abortions; last year we had 248, an 89% decrease. Additionally, we have accurate data that indicates nearly 1,500 women per year never return for an abortion after receiving true informed consent information, and our unique grant program has empowered more than 60,000 families to choose life by leveraging existing community resources and then filling in the needed gaps in resources to help families get started on the right path.
This is the story that HHS needs to tell at the World Health Assembly.
Just as people are vulnerable at life’s earliest moments, they’re also vulnerable in their last, and we have to be concerned about both. They must have access to the health care resources they need, including life-affirming hospice and palliative care, and community support to live out their days without the abandonment of euthanasia or pressure to end their lives by assisted suicide.
As we have seen in the Netherlands, Belgium, and now Canada, the push to legalize assisted suicide for some has opened up to become involuntary euthanasia on others. The United States must push back on this dangerous situation and urge WHO and all in the healthcare field to protect life, not end it.
The stated goals of the SDGs, the WHO plan of action, and the push toward global universal health coverage all trumpet the idea of leaving no one behind. We must make this true. Every human being deserves care—during every stage of their life course. No one should ever be left behind!