UN Adopts Document on Sustainable Development Goals That Could be Used to Push Abortion

International   |   Marie Smith   |   Aug 12, 2015   |   12:55PM   |   Washington, DC

United Nations Member States, after a final two week session of negotiations, reached agreement on the Post 2015 Agenda,”Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development“.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets purport to “leave no one behind”; however, the inclusion of target 3.7 to “ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services” and 5.6 to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights” make children in the womb the group most likely to be left behind as the world experiences an unprecedented fifteen year push for access to abortion beginning in January 2016.

Pro-abortion NGOs are celebrating the agreement which speaks volumes. International Planned Parenthood Federation in “Countdown to the Sustainable Development Goals” prior to acceptance of the outcome document stated, “There is a will not to unravel the package of goals and targets, and upset the political balance, which is good news as there is a target for sexual and reproductive health under the health goal and reproductive rights under the gender goalAs the successors to the MDGs these SDGs will be important because they will guide national policy making and budget prioritisation…”

Pro-abortion NGOs are also taking credit for the inclusion of “sexual and reproductive health” and “reproductive rights”. According to The European NGOs for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Population and Development (EuroNGOs):

Paragraph 27 also commits to “ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education “…This  supported by the inclusion of sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights in target 5.6 of the SDGs. These references to gender and SRH and RR represent a huge victory for the SRHR community and its advocacy efforts over the last year.”


During debate, the European Union was one of the strongest voices for inclusion of the expansive radical agenda of “sexual and reproductive health and rights” which many countries opposed. Commenting on a paragraph that sought to affirm the critical role of the family, EuroNGOs stated,

“A contentious paragraph inserted into the draft circulated on 26th July regarding the role of the family has been removed in the final draft. Civil society mounted a strong opposition to the inclusion of this paragraph, as did states and groups from the global north including the EU. In its suggestions for the preamble and declarationEU also called for the addition of sexual and reproductive health and rights to the end of paragraph 20 about gender equality. Whilst this reference is not in the final draft, the SRHR community warmly welcomed its inclusion in the EU’s statement.”

Also taking credit and celebrating is the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) whose post-adoption statement includes,

“The International Women’s Health Coalition and our partners in the global women’s movement saw this as an opportunity. We insisted that gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights be prioritized in this new agenda. After all, the MDGs furthest from being achieved were those related to women and girls. We could not let that happen again…Our work paid off.”

Nigeria and Malta were two of the strongest pro-life voices. Nigerian Ambassador Usman Sarki continually warned against text that contradicted Member States’ religious beliefs and sought unsuccessfully to have respect for religion, inserted in the draft. He made it clear that the reference to “universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights” did not create or presume the right to abortion and that national laws on abortion must be upheld. The delegate from Malta affirmed that abortion is illegal in Malta and objected to unqualified references to reproductive rights.

A September summit of the U.N. General Assembly will finalize the SDGs which in contrast to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are universal and apply to all countries. The President of IWHC stated,

“Developed countries like the United States will be held to the same standards as developing countries and will be asked to live up to global commitments.”

The SDGs are massive in scale with total cost expected to be in the trillions of dollars per year from all funding sources, including national budgets controlled by legislators. NGO health care providers, including those that perform abortion, are preparing for the unprecedented influx of funding as sexual and reproductive health and health-care services are integrated into national health strategies and programs while a target to provide “universal health coverage” is also pursued.

The next phase in the process is underway as the critical indicators to track progress on the targets are developed with input from U.N. agencies. The first set of indicators is available from the UN Statistics Division, acting as Secretariat of the Inter-agency Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs).

The “List of proposals, July 7, 2015” is the starting point for the deliberations of the IAEG-SDGs to identify “the most appropriate indicators under the SDG goals and targets”. A revised list of indicators will be circulated on September 21.

Ambassador Sarki rightfully expressed concern over the indicators during negotiations on the SDGs advising that the indicators should not invade policy space, promote a “one size fits all” approach, or contradict national priorities.

But the List demonstrates that they do. Current suggested indicators conflict with many national and state laws on abortion and reveal why the targets on universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights are so dangerous to efforts to protect women and their unborn children from the violence of abortion.

Problematic Indicator 5.6.1: “Percentage of women and girls (aged 15-49) who make decisions about their own sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights by age, location, income, disability and other characteristics relevant to each country”, as proposed by UNFPA.Laws requiring parental or spousal consent for abortion, contraception, etc. would be in conflict with this indicator.

Problematic Indicator 5.6.2: “Existence of laws and regulations that guarantee all women and adolescents informed choices regarding their sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights regardless of marital status”. According to UN Women, a revised indicator would be “the proportion of countries with laws and regulations that guarantee all women and adolescents access to sexual and reproductive health services, information and education”, [as recorded in official records]. Legal/regulatory frameworks covered by this indicator include laws and regulations that explicitly guarantee:

1. Access to SRH services without third party authorization (from the spouse, guardian, parents or others)

2. Access to SRH services without restrictions in terms of age and marital status;

3. Access by adolescents to SRH information and education.”

This indicator would also track laws that prohibit or restrict “access to sexual and reproductive health services”.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also been engaged with the indicator process which is highly problematic given its extreme pro-abortion position. Its recent report-“Sexual Health, Human Rights and the Law“- includes access to abortion as a critical part of “sexual health”.

Laws restricting or regulating abortion are opposed and described as “likely to have serious implications for health”; laws requiring parent consent for abortion are opposed. The non registration and unavailability of the abortion inducing drugs mifepristone and misoprostol are considered “barriers to access”. Other “barriers” to abortion access include:

“Another major barrier to sexual health services in some countries is the refusal by some health-care providers to provide sexual and reproductive health services on grounds of conscientious objection.

The availability of health-care facilities and trained providers within reach of   the entire population is essential to ensuring access to sexual health services.

Some national laws stipulate that only doctors can perform certain services. In the  area of sexual health, many services do not necessarily have to be provided by a physician, but can be competently provided by nurses, midwives or auxiliary nurses.”

PNCI notes that the indicator process is a critical final step in the Post 2015 process. PNCI urges lawmakers to consult with their foreign ministries and strongly oppose indicators that threaten or conflict national laws and policies on abortion.

LifeNews.com Note:  Marie Smith is the director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues.