UN Health Rapporteur: Technology Must Support Abortion

By | July 6, 2023

Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 7 (C-Fam) A new UN human rights report called on countries to crack down on pro-life speech and to force social media companies not to block posts with instructions for self-induced abortions.

According to the UN special rapporteur on the right to health, governments have an obligation to ensure that technology companies do not restrict access to information about abortion and must counteract the spreading of “falsehoods” by pro-life organizations online in order to protect abortion rights.

The report focuses on “digital innovation, technologies and the right to health.”  The UN expert who nominally prepared the report, or rapporteur in UN parlance, is Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, a South African abortionist, host of a television show about sex, and activist for legal “sex work” throughout the world. She frequently uses her UN platform to promote abortion as a right and advance LGBTQ issues since her appointment in 2020.

In her report, Mofokeng insists that “at a minimum, levels of satisfaction of the right to sexual and reproductive health, including abortion,” should be “guided by contemporary human rights instruments and jurisprudence” and the work of UN agencies. She specifically cites the World Health Organization’s 2022 guidance on “safe” abortion.

Attempts to create an international right to abortion by global consensus have been repeatedly rejected by UN member states for decades. Nevertheless, Mofokeng calls on national governments to “undertake sustained information campaigns and educational activities through digital platforms” to counteract “misinformation” from pro-life organizations.

Meanwhile, she praises “informal groups and NGOs” for “fill[ing] the gap left by States in the provision of abortion services,” noting that they may be the only available sources of information “for pregnant people living in places where abortion is highly restricted.”

Mofokeng also notes that some social media platforms “use categorization as a method of gatekeeping, for example information on abortion tagged as explicit material.”

Mofokeng’s report contains a catalog of the calls of abortion groups in recent years. They increasingly complained that their content—including how-to guidelines for self-induced abortions—are being flagged and taken down on social media platforms.

Abortion providers and promoters like the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) have also campaigned against pro-life pregnancy resource centers, and urged online search engines to alter their algorithms to downgrade them in search results in favor of abortion clinics.

Mofokeng—and IPPF—base their claims on the idea that abortion is health care, and since health care is a right, all barriers to accessing abortion must be removed, including what Mofokeng terms “hostile” laws.

Mofokeng decries the “gatekeeping” that censors videos with instructions for self-induced abortion, including information about how to illegally obtain abortion drugs by mail.  Yet elsewhere she adopts a double standard when it comes to pro-life groups.

While discussing “falsehoods” spread by pro-life groups, Mofokeng cites an article alleging that “staff at some [pro-life pregnancy resource] centers offer ultrasounds without medical qualifications.”

In its article warning women to avoid pro-life centers, IPPF also invokes credentialism when warning against those offering ultrasounds: “If your scan is being performed by a sonographer, you can ask what training they’ve had and if they are on a register.”

In contrast, when defending their promotion of the sale and distribution of abortion drugs by illegal providers online, abortion advocates insist they are operating accordance with WHO standards.