Hillary Clinton Position on Family Planning and Abortion Violates Cairo Agreement
by Samantha Singson
April 30, 2009
LifeNews.com Note: Samantha Singson writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Friday Fax publication.
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com/CFAM) — Last week at a United States (US) House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that there was a new administration in place with different values, beliefs and global agenda.
Nothing illustrated this rupture with previous U.S. policy more than her admission that the Obama administration interprets the term reproductive health to include abortion.
In response to a question from Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ) on whether her definition of the phrases reproductive health, reproductive services, and reproductive rights includes abortion, Secretary Clinton stated that, We [the current US administration] happen to think that family planning is an important part of womens health and reproductive health includes access to abortion that I believe should be safe, legal and rare.
Clintons linkage of family planning with abortion is not just a severe break with the previous administration; it is a clear violation of the Cairo Program for Action, which her husbands government helped to negotiate in 1994.
The Cairo document explicitly states in two places that abortion should in no case be promoted as a method of family planning.
Secretary Clintons statement of the current administrations position is in stark contrast to previous U.S. policy. Over the last eight years at the United Nations (UN), the US delegation made dozens of interventions underscoring that there is no international consensus on abortion.
Up until the week prior to Barack Obamas election, the US delegation at the UN stated that sexual and reproductive health does not include abortion or constitute support, endorsement, or promotion of abortion or the use of abortifacients and that none of these references can be interpreted to constitute support, endorsement, for promotion of abortion.
At the UN, nations regularly engage in heated debates over reproductive health language.
When the term was introduced at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, states only agreed to its inclusion in the non-binding outcome document with the understanding that it could not be used to create any new right to abortion. More than 13 states also made explicit reservations to ensure that none of the terms related to reproductive health would be defined to include abortion.
To date, no international consensus on the precise meaning of the term reproductive health exists.
At the Commission for Population and Development meeting earlier this month, several countries made explanations of position reiterating that there is no international consensus on the term reproductive health and that abortion should not be included as part of its definition.
The term reproductive health is currently the focus of legislation in a number of countries like the Philippines and contained in various declarations and proposals at the Organization of American States, the African Union and the UN. As the Philippines Constitution explicitly protects unborn life, its usage in national legislation excludes any abortion linkage.
For years, pro-life UN lobbyists have urged countries to issue strong interpretive statements to protect their laws on abortion.
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