Pro-Abortion Group Says USAID-Peru Abortion Promotion Charges False

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 19, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Abortion Group Says USAID-Peru Abortion Promotion Charges False

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 19, 2004

Washington, DC ( — A pro-abortion group on Thursday says charges that a U.S. agency is attempting to overturn the pro-life laws in the South American country of Peru is false. But some pro-life advocates say USAID violated the Mexico City Policy by funding a conference in Peru where attendees floated legislation to legalize abortion.

Ten members of the Peruvian Congress sent a letter on January 15 to USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios charging that the agency is funding abortion advocates in Peru to change the country’s pro-life laws that ban abortions.

The letter says that, in October 2003, "USAID funded an event at which the legalization of surgical abortion was promoted." At the event, "abortion was promoted in word and in legislative text drafted to legalize abortion in Peru."

The congressmen say speakers from USAID-funded groups called the illegality of abortion in Peru a "social problem" and promoted surgical abortion as a method of family planning.

USAID has denied the claim and a pro-abortion group now claims the charges are false.

The Center for Health and Gender Equity sent a letter Wednesday to Natsios saying the charges are "utterly baseless."

"These charges are completely without merit, and are intended solely to undermine women’s access to essential reproductive health care in Peru by reducing U.S. assistance for family planning services throughout the country," said Jodi Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, which has had an office in Lima, Peru since 1998.

The conference in question was hosted by the Ministry of Health in Peru and the office of Peruvian Congressman Victor Velarde as well as a number of leading "reproductive health organizations."

The UNFPA, which has been criticized for its role in supporting China’s population control program of forced abortions and sterilizations, also attended.

USAID says the mention of abortion at the conference came about only as a result of citing U.N. documents urging countries to allow abortion. The agency also says some of the discussion that took place concerned post-abortion care for those who need medical attention following botched abortions or miscarriages.

But Steven Mosher, a longtime population control expert, says the agency is undermining President’s Bush’s pro-life policies and he suggests Bush should remove those USAID staff members who are responsible for funding the event.

"Three years into the pro-life Bush Administration, some bureaucrats at USAID are apparently still pursuing an anti-life agenda. It’s past time to clean house," Mosher said.

The Mexico City Policy, put back into place by President Bush after it was removed during the Clinton administration, prohibits the federal government from giving taxpayer funds to any group that promotes or performs abortions in other countries.

Center for Health and Gender Equity letter –