DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     March 4, 1999     vol. 10, no. 44

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- At a UN conference on women's health, the Holy See has observed that the Catholic Church operates 985 different national organizations dedicated to the promotion of women's health and welfare.

          Speaking on behalf of the Holy See at a New York meeting of the UN's commission on the status of women, Ellen Lukas underlined the concern of the Church for the welfare of women. At the same time, she expressed serious reservations about the "ambiguous language" used in some UN circles, including the references to "reproductive health" and "gender." The term "reproductive health" has frequently been interpreted as a call for legal abortion; "gender" is commonly used to suggest that the male and female roles (and sexual preferences) should be interchangeable.

          Lukas charged that in the aftermath of the Beijing conference on the status of women, UN efforts to promote "reproductive health" have dominated the efforts of international bodies, while serious diseases such a tuberculosis, tropical fevers, and AIDS have not been addressed. She pointed out that 17.3 million people die of these diseases every year in the developing countries, although cures are available.

          The Vatican delegate also said that the Holy See is fully committed to support efforts to ensure that women have adequate health care during pregnancy and childbirth. And she reiterated the Church stand in favor of responsible parenthood, emphasizing that natural family planning allows couples to space the births of their children.

          Finally, Lukas noted with concern that UN efforts to promote the welfare of women have focused primarily on the professional world. She argued that similar efforts should be undertaken to provide help for women who dedicate themselves to raising their children at home, and for aged women

          Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the New Jersey congressman who stood at the center of an effort to block payment of US back dues to the United Nations over funding of population control programs said on Tuesday that he expects to continue the impasse this year.

          Republican Rep. Chris Smith said he has been assured by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, and Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, that the House of Representatives would continue to refuse to pass a bill authorizing payment of $1.6 billion to the UN. President Bill Clinton has said he would veto any bill that included a ban on funding of population control programs overseas, even if that bill include the UN payment.

          The UN has threatened the US that if the payment is not made it may lose certain voting rights, although the Security Council seat is not at stake. On Tuesday, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, and Rep. Constance Morella, R-Maryland, introduced legislation to restore funding to the UN Population Fund, cut off by Congress last year. The bill would provide $25 million for year 2000 and $35 million for 2001 to use in programs that critics say promote contraception, sterilization, and abortion, even misleading women as to the effects of their participation.

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

March 4, 1999       volume 10, no. 44


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