At a high-level meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council this week, the council’s president had to reassure abortion supporters that the UN remains committed to achieving targets on universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights in the ministerial declaration it adopted on UN development goals.
Zimbabwean Ambassador Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava said Wednesday, “The draft ministerial declaration does not encroach upon the primacy of the 2030 Agenda, with its goals and targets, which remains the foundation of our commitment.” The 2030 Agenda includes “universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights” in its target on gender equality which were being reviewed by the Council this year.
UN member states that promote abortion and homosexual rights complained that language about “universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights” was kept out of this year’s declaration about the UN development goals.
“By leaving out sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights we are making a disservice to women and girls,” said a representative of the European Union.
Canada and Australia made a last-ditch attempt to include this language in the declaration adopted by ministers of UN member states in a letter to Ambassador Shava last week. In the letter, they explained that the language was directly taken from Agenda 2030, but he did not accommodate their request, opting to give oral assurances instead.
During adoption of the document, Canada said it was “very concerned” about this exclusion.
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“Women and girls have the right to decide freely on their sexual and reproductive health and rights,” the Canadian representative said, adding that they were relieved by Shava’s assurances.
Australia was also appeased by Ambassador Shava’s opening remarks but said that the missing target was “critically important” and that their commitment to achieving universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights would not weaken.
The United Kingdom joined in complaining that the amendment was not included saying they were “extremely disappointed.”
The declaration still mentions “universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services,” another controversial target of the 2030 Agenda.
While UN consensual agreements on this terminology include access to abortion as a health service, they do not include abortion as a right in any circumstance. Abortion supporters exploit this ambiguity to promote access to abortion in UN programming.
The United Nations Population Fund measures international progress on the Agenda 2030 target on “universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services” by looking at the prevalence of contraceptive use in countries. It also looks at the adolescent birth rate in countries, which can implicate access to abortion.
The implementation of this target is less controversial than the Agenda 2030 target about “universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.” The indicators proposed to measure progress on this target include sexual autonomy, access to abortion and contraception for minors without parental consent, and the availability of comprehensive sexuality education. This indicator still hasn’t been finalized by statisticians and UN agencies, but the General Assembly relinquished any prerogative in reviewing the indicators earlier this month.
The Holy See, alone among delegations that negotiated and adopted the ministerial declaration, repeated its reservation to the use of any language with regards to “sexual and reproductive health” in UN resolutions, and that it does not count “access to abortion or to abortifacient drugs” to be within the meaning of this terminology.
LifeNews.com Note: Stefano Gennarini, J.D. 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.