Catholic World News News Feature
UNICEF joins in pro-abortion drive October 05, 2007
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has joined with the sponsors of a new drive to promote legal abortion, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-Fam) reports.
The new global initiative was launched by various UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in New York last week, Samantha Singson reports in C-Fam's Friday Fax. UNICEF-- a UN agency that has persistently denied supporting abortion-- has joined in the "Deliver Now for Women and Children" campaign.
Marketed as a campaign to raise awareness of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on maternal and child health, the agenda of "Deliver Now" includes a call for “safe abortion"--which is treated as synonymous with legal abortion. The campaign is coordinated by The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, chaired by Kul Gautam, the deputy executive director of UNICEF and assistant secretary-general of the UN. The group's members include among others the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, International Planned Parenthood Federation, and government development agencies from the US, UK, Canada, and Bangladesh, as well as the World Health Organization and UN Population Fund.
The campaign lists a number of severe maladies that effect maternal health and concludes that "most maternal deaths could be prevented if women had access to and could use professional care." "Deliver Now" defines "quality care" as including "services before and during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period, as well as safe abortion."
The "Deliver Now" web site features the stark tagline, "More than 10,000,000 deaths per year. Too many to ignore." This enormous number is the conflation of two numbers: the total number of childhood deaths per year from all causes, which is said to be 10 million; and the number of deaths women suffer from maternal causes, a highly suspect figure claimed by some UN agencies to total 500,000 per year.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the child mortality numbers are calculated from official sources including birth and death data derived from vital registration, census, and/or household surveys. On the other hand, the maternal mortality statistics are questionable estimations at best. According to the WHO, the primary source for maternal mortality statistics, "data on maternal mortality and other causes of death are often unavailable or, where available, are unreliable due to deficiencies in vital statistics registration systems." Dr. Joseph Chamie, the former head of the UN Population Division, official statisticians of the UN, states the 500,000 number used for maternal deaths cannot substantiated, and he has refused to use it.
Pro-family UN watchers are concerned that the disproportionate focus on unsafe abortion, based upon questionable maternal mortality figures, detracts from addressing the major health risks to pregnant women in the developing world. Experts say these are severe bleeding, eclampsia, and obstructed labor. By UNFPA’s own admission in a 2004 report, the most important means of reducing maternal mortality is not access to contraceptives and legal abortion but the presence of skilled birth attendants and access to emergency obstetric care.
Abortion proponents often link unsafe abortion and maternal mortality to push for legal, "safe" abortion. Critics of this argument are quick to point out that in Poland, when abortion was severely restricted in 1993, the country showed a sharp decline in the abortion rate and a decline in maternal deaths. In Ireland, where abortion remains illegal, the country reports one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world. By contrast, while the United States has had abortion on demand since 1973, this year the US reported a rise in maternal deaths.
The next scheduled event in the "Deliver Now" campaign is the Women Deliver Conference in London from October 18-20 which also focuses heavily on abortion rights.