DAILY CATHOLIC TUESDAY April 6, 1999 vol. 10, no. 67
NEWS & VIEWS
HOLY SEE LAMENTS UN EMPHASIS ON FAMILY PLANNING; YET UN POPULATION DOCUMENT STALLED AFTER VATICAN, DEVELOPING NATIONS UNITE
VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- The Holy See has lodged a new complaint at the United Nations about the conduct of family-planning agencies, and insisted that there is no international "right" to abortion.
In an intervention during a discussion of population and development, held at the UN headquarters in New York during the final week in March, the Vatican stressed that "no nation should be obliged to change the laws forbidding abortion." Msgr. James Hugh, the Vatican representative, also bitterly complained that UN agencies had devoted their attention solely to the issues of contraception, rather than to the promotion of economic development in impoverished countries.
The UN discussion was part of the follow-up work generated by the 1994 world conference on population and development--- the Cairo conference. Msgr. Hugh pointed out that the Cairo conference had produced a clear mandate for work to promote economic development, while rejecting efforts to require some countries to discard laws restricting abortion. He also reminded the UN that the Cairo conference had explicitly condemned the use of abortion as a means of curtailing population growth.
Msgr. Hugh added that many of the problems which could readily be addressed with existing resources-- such as sanitation, inoculation to curb epidemics, and fundamental social services-- continue to cause suffering in the Third World. These problems remain unresolved, he charged, because of the "disproportionate" emphasis on family-planning issues.
The UN Cairo+5 preparatory population control conference ended last Wednesday without issuing a final document as the Vatican and developing nations united to block the most controversial aspects of the agenda.
The Cairo+5 committee, so-named because of the fifth anniversary of the 1994 Cairo population control conference, had been mandated to prepare a document for the UN General Assembly this summer, but was unable to reach a consensus after six days of negotiations. The group is expected to resume its negotiations in May or June.
The UN had ordered the committee to produce a document based on the final Cairo statement without renegotiating its terms. But the United States and European Union members had introduced new proposals to reopen debate on abortion and contraception. Fighting this move was the Group of 77, an organization of 133 nations from the developing world, and the Holy See. A major component of the negotiations was an attempt to equate "reproductive rights" with human rights, according to the Catholic Family & Human Rights Initiative (CAFHRI).
"Just as the American laws on abortion were changed through
the controversial discovery of a constitutional 'right to
privacy,' UN feminists are attempting to insinuate into UN
documents the equation of 'sexual and reproductive rights'
with universal human rights," CAFHRI said in a statement.
Other stumbling blocks in the program include adolescent
"sexual and reproductive rights" and so-called "emergency
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NEWS & VIEWS