Drumbeat Continues to Include Abortion in Millennium Development Goals

By C-FAM Staff | March 18, 2005

     (NEW YORK – C-FAM)  The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on Thursday wrapped up a two-day conference laying out the UN's strategy for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in preparation for a major progress review this September. Conference participants agreed that the MDGs need to be expanded to include a broad feminist agenda, including universal access to reproductive health care, which in some UN circles includes abortion.

     France Donnay, chief of the Reproductive Health Branch of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), said that "reproductive health and rights are at the core of life for every human being" and "include. . . the means to avoid unwanted pregnancies." She also said that "universal access to reproductive health, including family planning, is the starting point" for achieving the MDGs, and "sexual and reproductive health. . . should be included in universal health care" within countries.

     Lynn Freedman, lead author of a key UN-commissioned report on reducing maternal mortality, recommended the addition of a new target under the maternal mortality goal, to achieve "universal access to reproductive health" by 2015.

     Norway's Ambassador Johan Lovald said, "We support the proposal in the task force report on child mortality and maternal health to establish a specific target on access to sexual and reproductive health by 2015 through the universal health care system." Canada also welcomed the idea of including reproductive health within the MDGs.

     Charlotte Bunch, Executive Director of the Center for Women's Global Leadership, also agreed that that the MDGs must include "sexual and reproductive rights," "which were so central to all the conferences in the 1990s but are missing from the MDGs." Specifically, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) must be incorporated into the MDGs because both provide "norms and strategies" that "forward women's rights." Both documents have been used by UN agencies and activist groups to promote abortion.

     Bunch also emphasized that "the mechanisms for enforcement of these norms must be strengthened" through means such as the CEDAW committee. The CEDAW committee has continually pressured countries to liberalize their abortion laws.

     The UN Secretary General's progress report on the MDGs will be released on Monday, March 21, 2005. Columbia Law Professor Jeffrey Sachs, head of the UN's Millennium Project Task Force advising the Secretary General in drafting his report, told conference participants that achieving the MDGs required investing in people "by providing health, education, nutrition, and family planning."