General Assembly Rejects Humanitarian Abortion
NEW YORK, December 29 (C-Fam) In a major setback to machinations of the UN bureaucracy and abortion groups to make abortion a humanitarian right, the UN General Assembly declined to endorse abortion as an essential part of emergency humanitarian response earlier this month.
“Access to safe abortion to the full extent of the law” was included for the first time in the sexual and reproductive health minimum initial services package, known as MISP, designed by UN agencies and abortion groups to insinuate the sexual and reproductive health agenda, and specifically abortion, into humanitarian responses.
The General Assembly was alerted to the ambiguity of this arcane instrument and did not endorse or recommend the MISP in a resolution about UN system coordination in humanitarian settings, as UN agencies and abortion groups hoped.
The blow came harder by the fact the Economic and Social Council, a subsidiary of the General Assembly, recommended the MISP as a benchmark for humanitarian response in last summer. At the time, the MISP did not include the abortion language that it now includes.
Abortion groups have had difficulty convincing humanitarian actors and donors to include abortion in humanitarian programming. The latest version of the MISP, agreed by UN agencies and abortion industry giants Planned Parenthood and Ipas in November, tried to change this.
The aggressive move followed an internal audit of UN Population Fund programming that recommended they ramp up abortion advocacy in humanitarian settings. The UN Population Fund is a key player and implementer of the MISP.
Nevertheless, the UN Population Fund tried to do this furtively, because of the political sensitivities surrounding abortion. Instead of mentioning safe abortion as a principal objective of the MISP, it only mentioned it in a note. UNFPA lost U.S. funding this year, including for the Inter-Agency Working Group for the MISP.
The World Health Organization and abortion groups would have preferred a more direct approach.
“It’s an advancement from the previous MISP chapter where safe abortion was not mentioned,” Bill Powell of Ipas told Devex.com. But he said the note could “make it easier for implementing agencies to ignore it.”
Though the latest MISP falls short of stating that abortion is a humanitarian right, or including it prominently, it defines “access to safe abortion to the full extent of the law” as comprising national policies—which might be read as denying abortion as a humanitarian right. It also states that Security Council resolutions and human rights law “support” abortion as part of humanitarian responses. This is an unjustifiable claim that shows UN agencies are on board with the campaign to make abortion a human right according to Susan Yoshihara, Executive Vice-President for Research of C-Fam, publisher of the Friday Fax.
The MISP continues to mainstream “post-abortion care” in the objectives of MISP. This ostensibly includes the management of complications from miscarriages and botched abortions. Abortion groups are, however, increasingly open about how post-abortion care is an entry point for wider abortion access. Studies show how abortion groups design post-abortion care programming to progressively make abortion more accessible regardless of abortion laws.
The MISP initiative was launched shortly after the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994 to mainstream the sexual and reproductive health agenda, and specifically abortion, in humanitarian efforts. It is unique in that there is no comparable inter-agency MISP initiative for access to basic health, water, sanitation, food, or shelter.