by Steven Ertelt
April 25, 2007
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Bush administration and European nations sparred on Tuesday over language in a World Bank document outlining health strategies for poor nations. The countries are upset that an American representative tried to insert language into the document that they say would limit abortions for teenagers.
The battle pitted diplomats from France, Germany, Italy and Norway against the U.S. representative, Whitney Debevoise, during a discussion of the document.
Officials from the nations told Reuters that they were upset that Debevoise wanted to change the phrase "reproductive health services," which abortion advocates have been pushing in various international and UN documents to try to promote abortion.
Debevoise suggested "age appropriate access to sexual and reproductive healthcare" instead, but the European nations said that could limit the ability of teenagers to get such care or abortions in poorer nations.
An unnamed representative of the U.S. Treasury said the World Bank negotiations on language have been going on for over a year and have not concluded. The official also said that the U.S. backs large parts of the document that promote legitimate health care rather than abortion.
"It covers a full spectrum of support for health care in developing countries … ," the spokesperson said.
The World Bank has come under fire from pro-life advocates for years for trying to push abortion on poor nations, most of whom have laws respecting the right to life of unborn children.
It has paid for ads in places like Nicaragua saying that abortion must be legalized or women will die.
One ad was paid for by the Inter-American Development Bank, a division of the World Bank, by the foreign aid ministries of the UK, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, and by the embassies of Germany, Austria, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Iceland, Japan, Norway, China and Sweden.
The ad came in response to efforts from the Nicaragua legislature to strengthen the nation’s pro-life law.
The World Bank, which has also financed abortions themselves, has frequently loaned money to poorer nations with a list of requirements and pro-life advocates don’t want to see pro-life countries obligated to endorse abortion to qualify for loans.
But that practice may be on the way out, according to Thomas Jacobson, representative to the United Nations for Focus on the Family Action.
He told CitizenLink that the situation at the World Bank has improved with new leadership from Juan Jose Daboub, managing director and former minister of finance in El Salvador.
He said Daboub deserves a medal because “it’s entirely inappropriate for the World Bank to be forcing these policies upon countries."
"That is an abuse of the power of the World Bank, abuse of the funds given by the United States and other countries," he added.