By PNCI—the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues
Pro-abortion NGOs [Non-Governmental Organizations], along with pro-abortion activists serving in key UN positions, have been following a ‘battle cry’ to “push back” against what they describe as ‘regression’ in support and funding for abortion. The main source for their ire is the Trump administration’s pro-life belief in the sanctity of life from the moment of conception and its commitment to advancing life-affirming policies through its foreign aid during negotiations at the United Nations (UN).
The effectiveness of U.S. opposition to the use of abortion inclusive terms at the UN and fear over potential pro-abortion failure to have abortion included under Universal Health Coverage is described in the pro-abortion document “Universal Health Coverage: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights on the Agenda”:
“Today, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are under threat. In recent years, negotiations in the UN and other global forums have been extremely difficult. The US and the states and blocs that currently ally with it are promoting hard-line positions on SRHR and seeking to contest agreed human rights and SDG language on sexual and reproductive health…In light of the growing opposition to SRHR there is a real risk that SRHR is excluded from global frameworks and new commitments on UHC, including from the political declaration of the HLM on UHC in September.”
Any confusion over whether or not “SRHR” includes abortion, at least in the view of the pro-abortion lobby, is put to rest by the explanation that “SRHR as defined by the Guttmacher–Lancet commission in Accelerate progress-sexual and reproductive health and rights for all: report of the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission 2018”.
The report by this official UN sanctioned commission states, “Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes.” This definition includes “access to safe abortion services, including post-abortion care”.
It also states that “essential sexual and reproductive health services” should include “safe and effective abortion services and care”.
Even UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres joined in the “push back” chorus during comments to a High-level General Assembly meeting marking the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). He stated, “We are seeing a global pushback on women’s rights, including reproductive rights and vital health services.”
Notably, the ICPD Programme of Action did not establish a right to abortion and recognized the sovereign right of nations and legislators to determine their own policy on abortion in Section 8.25:
In no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning…Any measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level according to the national legislative process.
The 25th anniversary meeting of ICPD takes place during November in Nairobi where a major pro-abortion “push back” is expected to take place to advance abortion despite the past agreement that countries have a sovereign right to determine laws and policy on abortion.
The same “push back” is expected during the UN General Assembly’s high-level Universal Health Coverage meeting on September 23 in New York.