UNFPA Distorts Data to Push Abortion on Developing Countries

International   |   CFAM   |   Apr 3, 2014   |   5:33PM   |   Washington, DC

New York, NY (CFAM) — A UN agency says abortion should be a maternal health priority and is distorting data to make its point as countries discuss a new global development agenda, according to a briefing paper issued this week.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) conducted a review of how countries have implemented development policies over the last twenty years and makes recommendations for future policies. It published its findings ahead of next week’s meeting of the UN Commission on Population and Development.

The UNFPA review contains major distortions on maternal health, according to a briefing paper by Stefano Gennarini, J.D. and Rebecca Oas, Ph.D., who say UNFPA’s approach to maternal health as misleading and unhelpful. The paper was released this week by the International Organizations Research Group, the research arm of C-FAM, publisher of the Friday Fax.

un11In just one example, the authors observe that the UNFPA report refers to abortion 192 times in the 234-page report–10 more times than it mentions maternal health or maternal mortality combined. UNFPA recommends making abortion legal and more widely accessible, particularly to adolescents, saying it will make abortion “safe”.

Yet the authors reviewed several studies showing that improving maternal health saves women’s lives regardless of the legal status of abortion. They recommend that maternal health remain a high priority of the new UN development scheme, known as the post-2015 development agenda.

But countries would be deceived if they believed that making abortion legal or more widely accessible would automatically lower maternal deaths, the briefing paper contends. In a country where childbirth is highly risky because of a lack of sanitation, decent roads, and skilled health workers, there can be no such thing as a safe abortion, whether legal or not.

The paper makes the case that mortality from abortion can only be reduced if maternal health care is improved. When maternal health overall improves, fewer women die from abortions, regardless of whether abortion is legal. Liberalizing abortion laws does nothing to ensure that childbirth is safe for mothers or that the overall health infrastructure improves.

Improving maternal health was one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and despite progress in recent years, maternal deaths remain stubbornly frequent, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. The briefing paper makes the case for maternal health remaining a distinct goal in the post-2015 development agenda that will replace the MDGs.

The briefing paper cautions against the framework outlined in the UNFPA review, which treats maternal health as a subset of “reproductive health.”

This distinction has important funding implications. Making maternal health part of a broad reproductive health category would siphon resources away from interventions to help women in childbirth and redirect them toward non-essential reproductive commodities. An example is how UNFPA’s global program to ensure guaranteed supplies of “sexual and reproductive health commodities” uses resources that should also be spent on birthing supplies. The UNFPA reports that “[t]he vast majority of commodity funds are used for contraceptives and condoms.”

This emphasis on abortion and contraception reflects the UNFPA’s overall priority to reduce fertility and population growth, the authors find. However, in a world where countries increasingly face aging populations and demographic decline, new policy directions are needed. Vast resources are spent to ensure women in developing countries can avoid having children but little to nothing is done to address the plight of many women in Africa and South Asia suffering from treatable infertility, they conclude.

The new briefing paper is being distributed to UN delegates and others who are involved in deciding the post-2015 development agenda.

LifeNews.com Note: Reprinted with permission from the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Friday Fax publication.