Abortion, Population Control Advocates Lose Battle in Rio

International   |   Timothy Herrmann   |   Feb 2, 2012   |   7:58PM   |   Washington, DC

New York, NY (LifeNews/CFAM) — In preparation for what is arguably the most influential intergovernmental conference on sustainable development internationally, representatives from member states, UN agencies and civil society concluded three days of heated discussion over the most recent draft of a document that will serve as the guide for sustainable development practices globally.

As it stands, the document makes no reference to population control or reproductive rights as necessary components of sustainable development globally. The document will be finalized at the UN conference on sustainable development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this June (Rio +20).

The absence of references to population control and reproductive rights led UN agencies like the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and advocacy groups like the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) to make strong interventions proposing their inclusion in forthcoming drafts. Though these organizations were vocal during the consultations, on the UN floor it was clear that these references were not included in the draft because of the lack of consensus among countries and civil society on the relationship between development and population growth.

Seeking out other forums to express their controversial agenda outside of Rio +20, the UNFPA was invited during the same week to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, an exclusive yearly summit attended by some of the world’s most influential politicians, corporations, and academics. While at the WEF, the President of the UNFPA, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, spoke on a panel titled “7 Billion and Counting: Dividend or Disaster.” Though the discussion was conducted privately, both the UNFPA and WEF have issued reports and official statements that describe population growth as unsustainable and a threat to development.

For many countries heavily invested in the upcoming conference, like Brazil, the danger of labeling population growth as a threat to development places the world at a crossroads. In an official statement, Brazil asserted that at the upcoming conference countries “can choose to repeat neo-Malthusian arguments or decide to reinstate the need for solidarity, equity and sustainable patterns of production and consumption with the developed countries taking the lead.”

In contrast, the UNFPA’s official statement regarding the draft document on sustainable development cast population growth in a negative light and recommended that governments ensure “that all women, men, and young people have information about, access to and choice of the widest possible range of safe effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning” which in practice includes both abortifacients and abortion services. Though the UNFPA claims in its document to support the principle that “human beings are at the center of concerns for sustainable development” its population control policies label the human person as the main problem, rather than solution, facing sustainable development.

A recent statement from the Holy See about the upcoming conference emphasized not only that the outcome document should include a “human centered approach” but that in order for such an approach to truly be human it must “avoid a reductionist approach which views the human as an obstacle to development.”

LifeNews.com Note: Timothy Herrmann writes 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.