Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 14
No. 4
June, 2020
 
Focus on the United Nations

US Tells UN Secretary General to Focus on Life-saving, not Abortion


The acting administrator for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), John Barsa, sent a strong message to United Nations Secretary General António Guterres (SG) letting him know that the United States stands with nations that have pledged to protect the unborn. In the letter, Barsa expressed the Trump administration's concern that during the pandemic the SG, his staff, and the UN's funds, programs, and specialized agencies need to stay focused on life-saving interventions and not seek to advance abortion in countries with pro-life laws.
 
The letter reminds the SG that the US is the world's largest donor of global health and humanitarian assistance with USAID disbursing over $3.5 billion to the UN in fiscal year 2019, $650.7 million to combat the pandemic globally with $45.3 million of that to UN agencies. It expresses US belief that the "delivery of essential health care is the first priority around the globe during this time" and secondly that the US believes severe food shortages which "could represent a second, deadly impact of the pandemic in many countries" must be prioritized.
 
The acting USAID administrator explained that the Trump administration's concern is based in part on the UN's Global Humanitarian Response Plan (Global HRP), and its $6.71 billion coordinated appeal. Mr. Barsa writes,
"Therefore, the UN should not use this crisis as an opportunity to advance access to abortion as an 'essential service.' Unfortunately, the Global HRP does just this, by cynically placing the provision of 'sexual and reproductive health services' on the same level of importance as food-insecurity, essential health care, malnutrition, shelter, and sanitation. Most egregious is that the Global HRP calls for the widespread distribution of abortion-inducing drugs and abortion supplies, and for the promotion of abortion in local country settings."
 
The US seeks removal of the controversial term "sexual and reproductive health" from the UN's humanitarian plan. According to Mr. Barsa, "Therefore, I ask that you remove references to and its derivatives from the Global HRP, and drop the provision of abortion as an essential component of the UN's priorities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
The SG is also reminded of the controversy that exists at the UN over terms that reference abortion:
 
"Member States are deeply divided over the use of the term 'sexual and reproductive health' and its derivatives, and it is among the most polarizing issues raised in UN negotiations. The Global HRP, and the activities of UN agencies and bodies moving forward, should use clear language and take clear action to address the real needs of vulnerable people around the world without promoting abortion. Now is not the time to add unnecessary discord to the COVID-19 response.
 
President Trump's strong pro-life message to the 74th UN General Assembly is quoted in the letter to underscore US commitment to saving all lives:
 
"Under the leadership of President Donald J. Trump, the United States has made clear that we will 'never tire of defending innocent life.' President Trump said in his address to the 74th UN General Assembly that the UN simply has 'no business attacking the sovereignty of nations that wish to protect innocent life.' Indeed, the UN should not intimidate or coerce Member States that are committed to the right to life."
 
In conclusion, Barsa objected to UN use of the pandemic to advance access to abortion, an act opposed by many countries which seek to protect the unborn:
 
"To use the COVID-19 pandemic as a justification to pressure governments to change their laws is an affront to the autonomy of each society to determine its own national policies on health care. The United States stands with nations that have pledged to protect the unborn."

Trump Administration Tells WHO's Assembly: "There is no right to abortion"


During the recent virtual meeting of the World Health Assembly-the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO)-the US submitted its written Explanation of Position (EOP) on the COVID-19 Response Resolution, disassociating itself from a number of paragraphs, including two related to "sexual and reproductive health".    
  
The US statement expressed regret at the failure to achieve consensus language in all areas of the resolution and explained:
 
"The United States dissociates from operative paragraphs 7.5 and 9.4. The United States strongly supports women reaching the highest attainable outcomes for health, life, dignity, and well-being throughout their lives. We champion access to high-quality health care for women and girls across the lifespan. However, we do not accept references to "sexual and reproductive health," or other language that suggests or explicitly states that access to abortion is included in the provision of population and individual level health services. The United States believes in legal protections for the unborn, and rejects any interpretation of international human rights (such as General Comment 36 on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) to require any State Party to provide access to abortion. As President Trump has stated, 'Americans will never tire of defending innocent life.' 
Each nation has the sovereign right to implement related programs and activities consistent with their laws and policies, free from external pressure. There is no international right to abortion, nor is there any duty on the part of States to finance or facilitate abortion. Further, consistent with the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action and the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, we do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our global health assistance."

UN "Experts" Object to US States' Right to Decide Abortion Policy


Pro-abortion activists serving on the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls attacked US states for not treating abortion as "essential" during the COVID-19 crisis. In the release, United States: Authorities manipulating COVID-19 crisis to restrict access to abortionissued by the UN's Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, the activists target Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Iowa, Ohio, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee.
 
According to Elizabeth Broderick, Vice-Chair of the Working Group, "We regret that the above-mentioned states, with a long history of restrictive practices against abortion, appear to be manipulating the crisis to severely restrict women's reproductive rights.
 
"This situation is also the latest example illustrating a pattern of restrictions and retrogressions in access to legal abortion care across the country. We fear that, without clear political will to reverse such restrictive and regressive trends, states will continue pursuing this pattern."
 
The Working Group also expressed its opposition to USAID's letter to the UN Secretary General which requested the removal of references to "sexual and reproductive health and its derivatives" from the Global Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) on COVID-19.
 
Broderick said, "We reiterate that sexual and reproductive health services, including access to safe and legal abortion, are essential and must remain a key component of the UN's priorities in its responses to the COVID-19 pandemic."
 
PNCI notes that the Working Group disregards UN consensus agreed to in the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action which states in 8.25 "Any measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level according to the national legislative process". State legislators are the ones to determine state policy on abortion, not abortion activists who are appointed by the Human Rights Council to serve on Special Procedures. 

Group Advancing Abortion in Crises Opposes USAID Letter


The Inter-Agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises (IAWG), which authored the 2018 Inter-Agency Field Manual on Reproductive Health in Humanitarian Settings, and included for the first time ever access to abortion as part of the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for use in crises settings has blasted the letter from USAID to UN Secretary General António Guterres.
 
In a statement, the coalition self-described as "a global coalition of providers of and advocates for upholding sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in humanitarian settings" whose membersinclude leading abortion providers and promoters IPPF, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Ipas, and Women Deliver, objected to the US request to remove references to "sexual and reproductive health and its derivatives" from the UN's Global Humanitarian Response Plan.
 
IAWG stated, "Eliminating, reducing or restricting essential SRH services in the global response to COVID-19 will violate international human rights" and that it "applauds the UN, governments, donors and all gender and health advocates who have committed to the inclusion of SRH services, including contraception and access to safe abortion care to the full extent of the law, in the COVID-19 global funding and response."

Pro-Abortion NGOs Oppose US Pro-Life Letter


In response to Acting USAID Administrator John Barsa's letter to the US Secretary General, a bevy of pro-abortion NGOs joined together to write letters or statements presenting abortion as a human right.
 
In a letter to the UN Secretary General and to the WHO Director General, the organizations registered their "outrage" at the letter and its contents. They also used the opportunity to attack President Trump's Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy; the defunding of UNFPA which they claim "have damaged health systems by forcing clinic closures, fragmenting the provision of care, and reducing access to the full range of reproductive health services including abortion..." They charged that in "a number of countries, including the US, governments have taken actions to restrict SRHR services and particularly abortion care, using COVID as a pretext."
 
The most egregious section of the letter states, "The Trump Administration is using the current crisis to advance its unscientific, antihuman rights agenda, and to pursue an extreme ideology that has become the hallmark of its vision of US foreign policy. The UN and WHO must reject these efforts and continue to promote a response to COVID-19 that upholds long standing commitments to health, human rights, and gender equality."
 
Ipas issued a statement which said, "The Trump Administration's attempt to roll back reproductive rights and deny essential health care-detailed in a letter from USAID to the UN- is yet one more despicable action in a frightening anti-rights trend. We strongly condemn the letter, which asks that all references to sexual and reproductive health be removed from the UN's global humanitarian response plan.
 
"In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's imperative that pregnancy care, including abortion care, remains essential. We know this can be done."
 
International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) issued a statement condemning the Trump administration's pro-life efforts. IPPF stated that abortion is health care and "sexual and reproductive health and rights as a core part of the response to COVID-19 is fundamental."
 
It additionally stated, "Fulfilling sexual and reproductive health and rights is essential for women and girls to have autonomy over their own bodies, to achieve gender equality and ultimately the Sustainable Development Goals."
International Pressure for Abortion

Former UN Deputy Human Rights Commissioner Now Heads IPPF Board


The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) has announced that its new 15-member Board of Trustees is headed by Kate Gilmore, who from 2015-2019 was United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights. While in that position Gilmore actively promoted access to abortion as a human right despite the fact that no UN treaty states that abortion is a human right.
 
Gilmore is an example of pro-abortion activists serving in key UN positions. Prior to serving as Deputy Commissioner, Ms. Gilmore worked at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) as Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director for Programmes. Prior to UNFPA, she was Executive Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International when it adopted a pro-abortion stance.
In accepting the IPPF position Gilmore said,
 
"It would be an extraordinary privilege to join the Board of IPPF at any time; but it is even more so now. As certain governments and other regressive influencers work to orchestrate rollback on sexual and reproductive health and rights, IPPF stands as a beacon of hope and solidarity for the fundamental dignity of women, men and young people - of people of all identities - the world over.
 
According to IPPF's survey of its members across 64 countries it found that 5,633 static and mobile clinics and community-based care centers had closed because of the pandemic.

Pro Aborts Seek to Secure Abortion Gains during COVID-19


The International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion states on its Facebook page:"The Covid-19 pandemic could help to make positive changes in seeking and having an abortion a reality - by moving abortion provision into a virtual space along with so much other health care provision, not only as a consequence of Covid-19 but also because it is technically possible and has been for a long time. Safe abortion in women's hands!!"
 
The organization explains, "We have been trying to put the abortion decision into women's hands for 100 years now, ever since Alexandra Kollantai convinced Lenin to pass the first legal abortion law. It's been more than 30 years since Canada took abortion out of the law altogether, without a moment's regret since. It's been more than 30 years since we have been able to put the means of abortion into the hands of the one who is pregnant - abortion with pills. Abortion pills. Approved in France in 1988: defined as the property of women."
 
The Campaign for Abortion's view that abortion belongs solely in the hands of women is the theme for its day of abortion activism on September 28 as stated on Facebook:
 
We chose the #IManageMyAbortion theme for #28Sep  #InternationalDayofSafeAbortion2020 because it pushes the envelope.
 
"Abortion is very safe. It rarely needs a senior doctor. It rarely needs a tertiary hospital or a hospital at all. It doesn't need an anaesthetic, though it does need pain relief. It doesn't need an overnight stay - or three visits to the doctor to check if you really know what you want. It doesn't need scans or tests, before or after, certainly not routinely. And it doesn't need someone watching you go through it, unless you want them to be there with you. It's one of the safest known medical procedures and among the most common. One in every four pregnancies ends in abortion, and even so, there are 7.8 billion of us on this planet. It's time to open the window and let in some fresh air, to wake up in the present and meet the future. Abortion with pills can be very early - as soon as you miss your period - it's simple and safe!"

What Pro-Abortionists Seek on State Level During the COVID-19


Pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute has drawn up a list of what state lawmakers can do to enable access to abortion during the COVID-19 pandemic while stating that lawsuits have been filed in nine states to ensure access to abortion and stop the closure of abortion clinics as non-essential.
 
It explains that as of May 8, "only two states, Massachusetts and New Jersey, have explicitly exempted abortion services from stay-at-home orders as essential health care. In other states-such as Delaware, Hawaii, New York and Oregon-attorneys general have publicly clarified that their state's order exempts abortion." 
 
It continues, "Some states, such as New Mexico and Washington, are shoring up access to comprehensive family planning services by designating the "full suite of family planning services" as essential. Other states, like Illinois and Montana, have designated reproductive health providers more broadly as essential, and California's Department of Health provided guidance to continue pregnancy-related services for Medi-Cal beneficiaries "during these unprecedented times."
 
The long list of advice for policymakers to ensure access to abortion begins with "Include reproductive health services as essential". Other policies suggestions include removal of waiting periods, counseling requirements, parental involvement, telemedicine bans, physicians-only requirements, and laws against self-induced abortion. It recommends that public health clinics, including family planning providers, be enabled to screen and test people for COVID-19 using family planning funds for coronavirus response; require private and public health insurance coverage of telehealth, without cost sharing, for abortion; limit the ability of health care providers and institutions to refuse to provide care and enforce laws that prohibit discrimination in health care; and require providers to facilitate patient care by another provider if they object.
 
Guttmacher sees the use of telemedicine and other ways to access abortion, including the use of abortion-inducing drugs, that have been increasingly used during the pandemic as "a new reality". It claims that policymakers at the state level "have the responsibility to support these efforts and use the tools at their disposal to ensure that sexual and reproductive health care is accessible and available to all who need it."
 
Guttmacher's claims it recommendations "provide a solid foundation for the provision of care now and beyond this pandemic."

IPPF Demands for Women in Latin America during COVID-19


International Planned Parenthood Federation Western Hemisphere (IPPFWHR) has developed a statement of demands for governments in the region to "guarantee access to safe abortion in the context of the COVID-19" while many of these governments prohibit or restrict abortion and protect unborn children from the violence of abortion. This is another example of pro-abortionists attempting to use the COVID-19 crisis as an "opportunity" to advance access to abortion.
It states that local, national and regional governments must in their response to the pandemic "guarantee the access of women, girls and adolescents to sexual and reproductive health services". The services listed include "access to safe abortion, post-abortion care and self-managed abortions" which it claims are all "part of the basic contingency response services package presented by the pandemic."
IPPF cites the WHO recommendation in its "Guide for the Clinical Management of Severe Respiratory Infections when there is suspicion of COVID-19" which states "Women's sexual and reproductive health choices and rights must be respected regardless of whether or not they have been affected by COVID-19, including access to contraception and safe abortions within the limits allowed by law."

It also refers to the UN Secretary General's Global Humanitarian Response Plan to COVID-19 which states that "sexual and reproductive health services may be disrupted at times when health providers are overwhelmed in their efforts to deal with the pandemic". IPPF seeks to ensure access to abortion by demanding that governments ensure women's access to abortion, including self-induced abortions; incorporate abortion into the initial minimum package of COVID-19 health services; protect health organizations and providers that offer abortion; and refrain from "using the pandemic as an excuse to undermine women's rights to obtain safe abortions and access sexual and reproductive health services".

Legislative News

UK: Legislation to Ban Abortions for Minor Disabilities


new bill in the British Parliament would prohibit abortions for minor conditions such as club foot, cleft lip or palate. Currently, unborn babies diagnosed with these minor disabilities are legally aborted up until 24 weeks gestation. Yet these conditions can be easily corrected after birth. The legislation was sponsored by Tory MP Fiona Bruce, whose own son was born with a club foot that was corrected. "This is a sensible law change that I am inviting all MPs, regardless of where they stand on the wider issue of abortion, to get behind and support," said MP Bruce. "It's time our legislation caught up to reflect society's positive change in attitudes towards those born with disabilities, and medical advances in the intervening years." The bill has the support of a cross-party group of British MPs. 

Mexico: State Pro-Life Initiatives Advance


Legislators in the Mexican state of Guanajuato voted against a bill to legalize abortion in the state, declaring the bill inadmissible. The virtual session of congress was proceeded by virtual discussion forums with various interest groups on the issue, including pro-abortion and feminist groups, pro-life organizations, religious ministers, and political officials. Following the vote, feminist groups protested and vandalized notable buildings near the State Congress.  

 

In the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, members of parliament passed an education bill to teach students "a respect for life from conception to natural death." The new law calls for education to reflect the state's constitution which states, "the state recognizes, protects and defends the right to life that every human being has. From the moment of conception that life comes under the protection of the Law and is considered as having been born with regards to all corresponding legal effects until its natural death." The legislation also calls for the inclusion of persons with disabilities. "We want to create a new generation of students that have values and respect, which unfortunately in Mexico, we have seen is being lost," explained bill sponsor Juan Carlos Leal.
Executive News

NI: UK Will Exert as Much Power as Needed to Enforce Abortion Law


Northern Ireland's Secretary of State announced that more power will be extended into Northern Ireland to ensure the new abortion law is fully enacted. In an answer to a parliamentary question about how Westminster would ensure Northern Ireland complied with the new regulations, Secretary Robin Walker responded that the UK would provide full support to make sure the law is implemented: "The Government stands ready to provide whatever support we can to the Department of Health in Northern Ireland to commission full abortion services, in line with the new legislative framework, as soon as possible." Section 9 of the Northern Ireland Executive Formation Act 2019, changing a pro-life country's laws into one of the most extreme, went into effect on May 14. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) are calling for a repeal of the policy, citing a poll indicating that 79% of Northern Ireland citizens oppose the new regime. "Pro-life politicians in the Conservative Party need to hold the Prime Minister accountable for this abuse of power and reject the Northern Ireland Abortion Regulations when they come before Parliament," said Liam Gibson, SPUC Northern Ireland Political Officer.

Argentina: President Remains Determined to Legalize Abortion


Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez remains committed to legalizing abortion in the country, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The president said he has a bill "ready" and is waiting to bring it to Congress. Argentina prohibits abortion except in cases of rape and the life of the mother and child, yet the health ministry of Buenos Aires issued regulations regarding coronavirus that included "guaranteeing integral attention to people with the right to voluntarily interrupt a pregnancy." Bishop Alberto German Bochatey criticized the move, noting the contradiction: "If we defend life now against the virus, we must defend it against any other matter," he said. "If we're making enormous, galactic efforts not to get sick and so that not one life is lost, how can we continue with a project to legalize abortion or euthanasia?"
Judicial News

UK: Court Approves DIY Abortions During COVID-19 Lockdown


The UK's High Court has ruled that DIY home abortions are legal, upholding a regulation to allow women to take abortion pills at home with a phone or virtual doctor consult up to 10 weeks gestation during the pandemic. The challenge to the law was brought by pro-life Christian Concern, who argued the law risked women's health and safety and did not account for the psychological and physical effects of abortion. The group pointed out that the Health Secretary "was not given the full picture by civil servants being informed by members of the abortion lobby, so it appears that those civil servants in practice acted as lobbyists for abortionists," explained Michael Phillips. Christian Concern plans to appeal the decision. 

ACOG and ACLU Sue FDA to Make Abortion Pills Available


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) along the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have filed a lawsuit in a US District Court in Maryland to suspend regulations on abortion pills during the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawsuit challenges the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lift its requirements that the abortion drug mifepristone be administered in a hospital or medical facility. The ACOG and ACLU claim it should be available via telemedicine for self-use at home.

 
 
Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues
Advancing global respect and dignity for life through law and policy.

In this Issue

 
In This Issue: 
 
Focus on the United Nations
US Urges UN Secretary General to Focus on Life-saving, not Abortion
Trump Administration to WHO Assembly: "There is no right to abortion"
UN "Experts" Object to US States' Right to Decide Abortion Policy
Group Advancing Abortion in Crises Opposes USAID Letter  
Pro-Abortion NGOs Oppose US Letter Against Abortion
 
International Pressure for Abortion
Former UN Deputy Human Rights Commissioner Heading IPPF Board
What Pro-Abortionists Seeks on State Level During the COVID-19
Pro Aborts Seek to Secure Abortion Gains
Latin America and Caribbean: IPPF Demands for Women during COVID-19 Pandemic
 
Legislative News
UK: Legislation to Ban Abortions for Minor Disabilities
Mexico: States Advance Pro-Life Initiatives, Block Pro-Abortions
 
Executive News
NI: UK Will Exert as Much Power as Needed to Enforce Abortion Law
Argentina: President Remains Determined to Legalize Abortion
 
Judicial News
UK: Court Approves DIY Abortions During COVID-19 Lockdown
ACOG and ACLU Sue FDA to Make Abortion Pills Available