Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 11
No. 7
July, 2017
 
Pro-Life Actions
Surprise Pro-Life Win in Chile
The legalization of abortion in Chile- which bans all abortion and has the lowest maternal mortality rate in Latin America-was stopped by one vote. The stunning pro-life victory surprised observers, except those knelling in prayer and praying for victory. The win took place in the 120 member Chamber of Deputies following action in the Senate approving the legislation to amend Chilean law to allow abortion for three exceptions: a risk to the life of the mother, in cases of rape or incest, or in case of a negative prenatal diagnosis. The law would also create a judicial bypass for minors and limit the conscience rights of health workers. 
Deputies had approved the legislation a year ago and pro-abortion activists were confident of approval of the changes made by the Senate. However, the ruling government of President Michele Bachelet and her center-left Nueva Mayoria (New Majority) coalition, along with collaborating pro-abortion NGOs, failed to ensure that enough supporters of the pro-abortion measure were present for the vote. 

The defeat was determined by the decision of Congressman Marcelo Chavez of the Democratic Christian party, a member of the ruling coalition, to abstain from the vote explaining to local news outlets that he "had not been able to reach a decision" on the legislation. His abstention denied the pro-abortion faction the 67 votes needed for passage; a number of lawmakers belonging to Bachelet's coalition were on vacation at the time of the vote.

The measure now goes to a bicameral committee for review before reintroduction which may take place after a change in Chile's Constitutional Court scheduled for late August. The change is expected to result in a more conservative Court. Pro-life advocates had announced plans to appeal any legislative changes to Chile's law on abortion to the Constitutional Court.  The Chilean constitution protects the unborn child stating in Article 19 that the Constitution guarantees to all persons the right to life and to the physical and psychological integrity of the individual and states: "The law protects the life of those about to be born."

IPPF Western Hemisphere was actively engaged in the lobby effort stating"IPPF/WHR worked closely with MILES Chile and APROFA-as well as a broader coalition of organizations dedicated to promoting abortion rights-on a multi-faceted advocacy strategy aimed at educating lawmakers, health authorities, teachers and parents and building long-term public support for the decriminalization of abortion."  

The Director of Miles Chile blamed the defeat on Bachelet's government: "Everyone knows that some deputies and senators will always be absent for any vote, but this could and should have been taken into account by the ruling coalition and this outcome prevented. It is well known, they said, that when it comes to dealing with a draft law, its passage should never be taken for granted until it actually becomes law."

She announced that the NGO will be watching what happens in the Constitutional Court because "we do not rule out going to that Court ourselves with our own demands." 
Lawmakers Seek to Save Charlie Gard
As the tragic case of Charlie Gard seized international attention, U.S. lawmakers passed legislation in committee to begin efforts to try and save the baby the British court and the European Court of Human Rights ruled must die. The hospital taking care of Baby Charlie, who suffers from a mitochondrial disease and brain damage, has refused to allow his parents to remove him for experimental treatment in the US or to go home for hospice care. The approved legislation would have given baby Charlie and his parents permanent residency in the U.S. Charlie's parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, raised over $1.5 million for the treatment, hoping to give their son a chance at life. 
 
Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler sponsored the resolution, having faced a similar situation when her own daughter was diagnosed in-utero with a fatal condition and was saved by an experimental procedure. "The reason I'm moving this amendment," she said, "is because I strongly believe having faced circumstances, similar circumstances, that parents have the most at stake when it comes to standing up for their children."
 
Members of the European Parliament sent an open letter to the European Court objecting to its decision expressing their "deepest concerns about the outrageous outcome of Charlie's case, which infringes Europe's most fundamental values, particularly the right to life, the right to human dignity and personal integrity."
Despite support from around the world, it appears it have come too late to save baby Charlie. Following a recent consultation with an American doctor, Charlie's parents have ended their legal challenge to take Charlie to the US for treatment. Lamenting all the time wasted, Mrs. Yates said, "We only wanted to give him a chance of life."
Push for Abortion in Africa Labeled 'Colonization'
Competing voices were heard in London as the Family Planning Summit took place co-hosted by the UK Government, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020). At the end of the summit it was announced that 60 governments and partners had committed to $2.5 billion in new funding commitments for reproductive health services with a focus on youth in developing countries.

As delegates from donor countries that pay for abortion in African countries were pledging additional financial resources, another voice was heard as Obianuju Ekeocha, Founder and President of Culture of Life Africa, was interviewed by the BBC.

Ekeocha skillfully smashed the myth, presented as fact, that women in Africa need contraception to escape poverty and improve their lives and expressed outrage at the actions of Western countries and NGOs that pay for abortion in Africa while abortion is opposed by so many Africans.  "An overwhelming majority of African people continue to reject abortion," Ekeocha said referencing a Pew research pollthat demonstrated vast opposition to abortion in many African nations.

She argued, "If we're talking about abortion, well, I don't think that any Western country has a right to pay for abortions in an African country, especially when the majority of people don't want abortion...that then becomes a form of ideological colonization."

Babita Sharma from the BBC responded by saying, "the fact remains that hundreds of millions of women don't have access [to contraception] and should" to which Ms. Ekeocha countered, "Well, you're saying 'should,' but who are you to decide, if you don't mind me saying? There isn't a popular demand."

Ms. Ekeocha admonished that contraception is a 'Western solution' to poverty while women need food, water and basic healthcare and not something that is going to give them additional health problems stating"In all this talk about contraception, the one thing that I have never heard of in all my time trying to track all these things is something like the side effects of contraception; no one ever tells the African women, when they come to promote contraception across the different African countries."

"My lifeline out of poverty was education," Ekeocha concluded.
"It was not contraception. And there are so many other women who have walked the same path as I have without ever having to take recourse to some contraception provided by the British government or the United States government."

Pro-Abortion Actions
Africa-EU Partnership promotes SRHR
A creation of the African Union and the European Union, the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership has been the formal channel through which the European Union and the African continent work together since the Joint Africa-Europe Strategy was adopted by Heads of State and Government at the EU-Africa Summit in 2007. It recently hosted a forum in Tunis for civil society from both continents "to discuss future priorities in light of external challenges and opportunities at global and regional levels."Participants agreed to the Africa-EU Civil Society Forum Declaration which calls for greater involvement of civil society as 'independent actors' and 'integral partners' and for greater financial assistance for their work. The Declaration included under the heading 'Human Development'  support for the promotion of "investments and policies that ensure Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) focusing on women, girls, marginalised populations, people with disabilities and youth."
 
Similarly, under the heading "On Decent Work, Universal Social Protection and Sustainable Socio-Economic Development" the Declaration calls for support for "the provision of universal, affordable and inclusive access to social protection systems and floors, including community-based basic healthcare and health insurance, and sexual and reproductive healthcare, clean water and sanitation and universal access to renewable and affordable energy." The EU supports access to abortion as part of reproductive health.

The Africa-EU Strategic Partnership announced that it will be holding the 4th Africa-Europe Youth Summit from October 9-11, 2017 in Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire), bringing together youth leaders from both continents ahead of the 5th AU_EU Summit on November 28 and 29. The Youth Summit "will result in a declaration on themes including education, peace & security, environment, business, democratic inclusion and culture." The youth organizations involved include the Panafrican Youth Union (PYU), European Youth Forum (YFJ), Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe (AC-CoE), and Network of International Youth Organisations in Africa (NIYOA). Information on the call for Participation for the "4th Africa-Europe Youth Summit" and "Youth Plug-In Initiative" can be found here.
International Abortion Funding Wars
The refusal of the US under President Trump to fund abortions around the world is a problem for a number of countries who think that the destruction of unborn children through abortion is acceptable and something that development aid should provide.  The establishment of the She Decides fund by the Netherlands following the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy was just the beginning of a systematic effort to provide not only abortion but financial support for organizations that perform or promote abortion such as abortion mega giants International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and Marie Stopes International (MSI).
 
Now, in an appalling action, Sweden has escalated its pro-abortion mania and vowed that it will stop giving aid to any organization that adheres to the US pro-life policy and that will not abort the lives of unborn children or urge their mothers to do so. Sweden's development aid agency, Sida, announced the decision. Its director Carin Jämtin stated, "We have to defend SRHR and the right to abortion for girls and women in poor countries and when the United States implements a policy that will hit the poorest countries and the most vulnerable groups - women and girls in need of care, Sida has to make sure that Swedish aid continues to go to those activities we have agreed on."

Canadian Minister of International Development, Marie-Claude Bibeau, reassertedCanada's support for abortion as a key component of its foreign aid in the face of criticism by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops claiming that "Contraception and even abortion is only a tool to end poverty."

Read more here.
Focus on the United Nations
HLPF: Donor Countries Reveal Focus on Abortion in the SDGs
Two years after adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development the central platform for follow-up and review took place at the High Level Political Forum (HLPF). Countries reaffirmed their commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with voluntary country progress reports presented by a number of countries revealing promotion of abortion.
 
The Netherland's report is an example of a donor country that promotes and funds abortion in the context of aid for achievement of the SDGs. The report states that in regards to SDG 3, Good health and well-being, it is the Netherlands position that "Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is the main priority of international healthcare policy".
 
In regards to SDG 5, Gender equality, the Dutch report explained how it set up an abortion fund named She Decides following the reinstatement of the pro-life Mexico City Policy: "Finally, the country is campaigning for universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls. The widely supported initiative 'She Decides' initiated by the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation is an example of this policy."
 
It tied promotion of the radical social agenda to its development aid stating that it is committed to "development cooperation that directly contributes to the SDGs worldwide" and that it is focused on four priorities: "water, security and the rule of law, food security, and sexual and reproductive health and rights, including healthy pregnancies, safe childbirth, freedom to choose one's partner, sexual rights, and access to contraconception and safe abortion."
 
Belgium in its voluntary report stated that it is "a staunch defender of women's access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights (SRHR) (5.6) and of including the woman's and the girl child's rights perspective in family planning matters."
 
It also extolled the pro-abortion fundraising conference She Decides stating, "The international conference for the Global Fundraising Initiative She Decides held in Brussels in March 2017, co-organized with the governments of the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark further underscored this long-standing engagement. The Conference managed to muster 181 million USD in terms of new commitments - as well as additional financing through an adjacent crowd-funding initiative."
 
CEDAW Tells Countries to Change Laws against Abortion
CEDAW finished its recent session and again instructed countries to change laws against abortion despite the fact that the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, or any other UN treaty, does not mention abortion. In reprimanding Italy over its large number of conscientious objectors to abortion the committee revealed its radical pro-abortion disposition.
 
The committee stated it was concerned about: "The limited availability of, and accessibility to, abortion services, due to the significant number of health personnel conscientiously objecting to carrying out such operations, and the lack of health centres providing these services, leading pregnant women to undergo unsafe abortions."
 
It instructed Italy to: "Increase the budget allocated to the health sector in order to ensure the full realization of the right to health, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, for all women and girls".  Italy was also told to adopt "a procedure common to all provinces in order to guarantee access to abortion services and appropriate referral services, and ensure that the exercise of conscientious objection by health-care personnel does not pose an obstacle for women who wish to terminate a pregnancy".
 
Niger was instructed to: "Legalize abortion and ensure its legal and practical availability in cases in which the life and/or health of the pregnant woman or girl is at risk and in cases of rape, incest and serious impairment of the fetus, and decriminalize abortion".
 
Nigeria was told: "Amend relevant Penal Code provisions of federal States, with a view to legalizing abortion in cases of rape, incest, risk to the physical or mental health or life of the pregnant woman, and severe impairment of the foetus, and de-criminalize abortion in all other cases."
 
The committee found fault with the objection by institutions in Romania to abortion and instructed Romania to: "Ensure unimpeded and adequate access to legal abortion and post-abortion services to all women in the State party, including by ensuring that institutions are precluded by law from raising conscientious objection, defining the permissible grounds for raising such objections by health professionals and guaranteeing mandatory referrals in cases of conscientious objections by health professionals."
 
Related documents can be found here.
Legislative News
EP: Committee Claims Denial of Abortion is Violence against Women
News from the European Parliament reports that members of two committees-Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) and Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM)- adopted a an interim report to provide a legal framework on the Istanbul Convention which was adopted by the Council of Europe supposedly as a means to prevent and combat violence against women. However, the news includes a problematic statement about the use of the treaty to promote abortion: "The denial of sexual and reproductive health and rights services, including safe and legal abortion, is a form of violence against women and girls, says the text. MEPs reiterate that women and girls must have control over their bodies."
 
The report was adopted by 58 votes in favor to 12 votes against, with 4 abstentions.
Citizens' Initiative Calls for Poland to Protect Disabled Babies from Abortion
Close to twenty European countries are behind a Citizens Initiative to end eugenic abortions in Poland. Entitled "#StopAbortion", it calls for Polish law to protect disabled unborn babies from abortion. "Ban of eugenic abortion in Poland would be a great victory for life defense and human being protection in Europe. This may set a standard for a new civilization respectful with its citizen's life and door open for other countries to follow it," says Jaime Mayor Oreja, President of the ONE OF US Federation. The campaign will begin collecting signatures in early September and continue for three months. The Initiative needs 100,000 in order to be considered by the Parliament.
US: States Enact New Pro-Life Laws
States across the US have passed several new pro-life provisions in 2017. These new laws offer a range of protections for the unborn, including bans on late term abortions in Iowa, Kentucky and Tennessee, gender selection abortions and D&E abortions in Arkansas. Arizona and Arkansas have enacted legislation regulating abortion clinics in terms of health codes and staffing and require regular inspections. West Virginia now requires minors have a 48 hour window instead of 24 and prohibits using telemedicine for abortion pills. Other measures require counseling and ultrasound before abortion and ban state funding for groups that provide abortions.
South Africa: New Bill Would Create Pro-Life Protections
new bill before the South African parliament would add pro-life protections to the existing abortion law. The legislation, introduced by the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), would require an ultrasound and mandatory counseling before an abortion to ensure women make a fully informed decision. The pro-abortion Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition is working on strategies to oppose the legislation, which now awaits further action.
Dominican Republic: Congress Votes to Permit Abortion
The Dominican Republic's Congress has voted to ease the country's ban on abortion by permitting it in cases of rape or incest, life of the mother, or when the baby has a life limiting diagnosis. The vote rejects a decision by the Senate which opposed the President's recommendation to ease the abortion laws.  The pro-life country, one of seven Latin American countries that have a full ban on abortion, has been under strong pressure by the UN and pro-abortion groups such as the Center for Reproductive Rights and Amnesty International to amend its laws. Another vote is expected now that the two houses of the legislature have reached opposing decisions.  

 
 
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Advancing global respect and dignity for life through law and policy.

Canada: Provinces to Offer Free Abortion Pills

 
New Brunswick became the first Canadian province to offer free abortion pills, and other provinces are planning to follow suit. Mifegymiso, a two-drug combination of mifepristone and misoprostol also known as RU-486, induces abortion. Alberta, Quebec and Ontario have announced plans to make the abortion pills available under universal cost coverage this fall. Further clarification is needed on who can dispense the drug, with the Canadian Nurses Association advocating that nurse practitioners be able to prescribe it. New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant celebrated the decision, calling it the "right thing to do". "We've pulled New Brunswick into the 21st century by getting rid of the two-doctor rule and other barriers to reproductive health, but there is still more to do," said Gallant.