OAS event proposes abortion to stop teen marriages

By | December 22, 2016
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OAS Hosts Roundtable (Photo credit: Juan Manuel Herrera/OAS)

WASHINGTON, DC, December 23 (C-Fam) The Organization of the American States (OAS) hosted an international event proposing the way to end the tragedy of child marriage is by letting children have abortions.

Allowing marriage under 18 is “sexual violence by law,” First Lady of Panama, Lorena Castillo de Varela, said in her keynote address.

Abortion was therefore a necessity to get rid of child pregnancies according to Planned Parenthood Federation of America Senior Advocacy Program Officer, Ximena Casas, who focused on the importance of ensuring children’s access to abortion throughout the Americas.

The event  — Child, Early, and Forced Marriage and Motherhood in the Americas — convened at OAS headquarters in Washington with an official agenda aimed at “identifying information and data gaps,” to “develop a joint, comprehensive, and effective roadmap for addressing the issue in the Americas.”

Panelists emphasized that pregnancy should not be used to justify an early marriage and that under no condition, including pregnancy, should girls younger than eighteen be allowed to enter marriage and form a family.

In her remarks, US Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, Catherine M. Russell, advocated for sexual and reproductive health services for children, understood by the US State Department to include abortion. The policy prescription would violate the laws of more than a third of OAS member states. In Chile, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Suriname, unborn children are protected from abortion by law in all circumstances.

By focusing on minors’ access to abortion, the panelists accepted that children may have sexual intercourse, even at a very young age, as long as they use contraception. The problem, according to the panelists, was not the premature sexual activity of children, but only the fact that they may then have to bear the children conceived as a natural result of having sex.

Several speakers emphasized the importance of providing children access to “comprehensive sexuality education.” In the international context, including at the UN, this phrase denotes curricula that promote the early sexualization of children, something which the majority of the world’s countries oppose, including in Latin America.

The total ban on marriage under 18 was worrisome to some in attendance.  “My cousin got pregnant by her fiancé when she was about to turn seventeen,” one of the delegates attending the event – who asked for anonymity – told the Friday Fax. “She got married,” he continued, “and it was not a trauma at all. She actually has a very happy life,” he said. “But if marriage was fully prohibited, without exceptions, as they are now suggesting, and abortion permitted, where would be her freedom to choose?”

This is a question the panelists left unanswered.

Another delegate characterized a complete ban on minors’ marriage as a new way to violate the right to life, hiding behind the noble cause of “protecting children.” She also asked for anonymity, indicating that it was inappropriate to express pro-life opinions while attending an event meant to protect the rights of children.

In the United States the decline of so-called “shot-gun” weddings, that is, weddings that come as a result of premarital sex and the insistence upon marriage, has led to an explosion of single-parenthood. In 1965, for instance, 24% of black babies were born out of wedlock while 3.1% of white babies were. In 2013, a staggering 72% of black babies are now born without a father in the house, while 29% of white babies were fatherless. Prior to 1965, most of these women would have married the father of their child.