UN Debates Mandatory Universal Health Coverage Including Abortion

By | June 13, 2019

NEW YORK, June 14 (C-Fam) The next big thing in global aid is universal health coverage. International aid agencies are retooling to deliver on this ambitious objective as nations sit down at UN headquarters to negotiate an agreement committing governments to realize the right to health for all.

Just as with Obamacare in the U.S. context, abortion groups want to make abortion a centerpiece of public health programming. And just as with Obamacare, the government supporters of abortion are resorting to euphemisms to achieve their objective.

The draft agreement — to be finalized this Summer — includes a controversial paragraph on “sexual and reproductive health,” a technical UN term that directs political and financial support to abortion groups and gives the UN system cover to promote abortion.

Until now, international aid has often focused on narrow interventions like family planning, HIV/AIDS programming, access to malaria treatment, and health emergencies like Ebola. The idea behind universal health coverage is to use international aid to build healthcare infrastructure to address all healthcare needs.

Abortion groups want to ensure “sexual and reproductive health” remains a high priority amid the broader global health agenda, even though it is a subject that is already ubiquitous in global health. “Sexual and reproductive health” is currently the single largest item on the global health agenda, with close to $12 billion in aid annually, according to OECD data.

The emphasis that global aid gives to reproductive health will be fleshed out in the implementation of the universal health coverage agreement through international aid programming. At that stage issues such as the rights of conscientious objectors and public funding of abortion will undoubtedly arise also.

Donors countries — Canada, France, and other European countries — openly promote abortion as a priority in their foreign aid policies. They are the ones emphasizing “sexual and reproductive health in the context of universal health coverage. On the other hand, the U.S., the largest single global aid donor, has laws and policies that prohibit U.S. funding from reaching abortion groups. Moreover, under the Trump administration the U.S. has opposed abortion-related terms in UN policy.

Many governments around the world would naturally side with the United States, including those of over sixty countries that have laws that are highly protective of children in the womb. In fact, UN member states have agreed in the past that abortion is a subject to be dealt with exclusively in national law, as opposed to an international right.

Despite having done much to raise the profile of pro-life issues in UN negotiations, the U.S. government has yet to establish a systematic global diplomatic outreach to oppose abortion-related terms in international policy. In contrast, Canada and European countries have longstanding aggressive diplomatic campaigns to promote abortion and to oppose U.S. pro-life foreign policy. They regularly pressure capitals all around the world to accept ambiguous terms like “sexual and reproductive health” in UN policy.

It remains to be seen if the Trump administration will accept the ambiguity of the term “sexual and reproductive health” or attempt to convince other countries of the importance of stopping UN abortion advocacy in the context of the universal health coverage agreement. Though the administration has taken a strong pro-life position, there is great resistance to it within the ranks of career bureaucrats at the State Department.

The agreement will be adopted in September during a special high-level event of the General Assembly.