New Commission May Insert Abortion in $40 Billion UN Program

International   |   Susan Yoshihara   |   Jan 20, 2011   |   11:08PM   |   New York, NY

Will a new $40 billion maternal and child health fund include abortion? A just-announced UN commission will decide.

The new commission is supposed to “make transparent” funds slated for the UN Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, announced last September at a UN summit.

Among the strategy’s top goals for 2015 is to “prevent 33 million unwanted pregnancies” a questionable figure that includes unplanned but wanted pregnancies and pregnancies which may have been planned but are later unwanted. 

The commission comes at the culmination of a year-long fight to get abortion on the agenda of major international donor conferences, including the G20 and the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) summits. Abortion activists met resistance when Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the host of the G20 summit, blocked attempts to insert abortion in the agenda, despite public criticism from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Harper was appointed co-chair of the new accountability commission.

Yet top abortion advocates were also appointed, such as Women Deliver president, Jill Sheffield. Women Deliver hosted two UN-backed conferences in 2007 and 2010 aimed at ensuring that abortion is included in any UN definition of maternal and child health. 

Family Care International (FCI), an abortion advocacy organization, was put charge of the commission’s advocacy and figures prominently in the new website launching it. Sheffield was president of FCI before taking over Women Deliver.

Two high-level UN staff who endorsed the Women Deliver agenda are also commissioners: Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, and Asha Rose Migiro, Deputy UN Secretary General.

Medical journal editor Richard Horton, who bucked abortion activist pressure and published an independent study on maternal health last year, is one of two working group chairs. That publication embarrassed UN maternal health experts by exposing years of poor UN research methods and flawed data that had been used to promote the abortion agenda. Horton has expressed his support for abortion in regards to maternal health, so it is not clear if he would support abortion promotion as part of the $40 billion strategy.

The power of the commission lies in its mandate to track the flow of funds by creating indicators and measurement standards nations must meet.

In the past, such goals have been viewed as influential in promoting abortion in countries where it is highly restricted, such as the controversial UN-backed African maternal and child health program. The Maputo Plan of Action tells states to “enact policies and legal frameworks” on abortion, “train service providers in the provision of comprehensive safe abortion,” “provide safe abortion services to the fullest extent of the law,” and “educate communities on available safe abortion services.”

The commission is on a tight deadline to publish its plan of action since the MDGs are due to expire in 2015. Its report is expected in May.

Other commissioners include co-chair Jakaya Kikwete, president of Tanzania, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) head, Rajiv Shah, and representatives from the World Bank, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Note: Susan Yoshihara and Terrence McKeegan write for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Friday Fax publication and is used with permission.