UN Secretariat, UNFPA Show Their Hand on Abortion Rights at Feminist Conclave

By | March 31, 2017
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NEW YORK, March 31 (C-Fam) Senior UN staff partnered with abortion groups at the recent UN women’s conference to promote “sexual and reproductive rights” that, when pressed, they could not specifically define.

At the Commission on the Status of Women side-event “Sexual and Reproductive Rights in the Global and Catalonia Agenda,” speakers from Spain told the public that their mission is to educate women, and girls, about their international “sexual and reproductive rights.”

When asked if these “rights” would include unlimited, free, confidential access to abortion, including for minors, and without parental consent, they did not answer.

The event was co-sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with Mr. Luis Mora, chief of the Gender, Human Rights and Culture Branch at the Technical Division of UNFPA, moderating the panel.

The representatives of Catalan NGOs coalition, which included the local affiliate of International Planned Parenthood Federation, told the audience several times in English and in Spanish that they assist women and girls in accessing their internationally recognized “sexual and reproductive rights.”

Ms. Silvia Aldavert Garcia, speaking for the Catalan IPPF, lamented that girls in Catalunya —the part of Spain that includes Barcelona — still lack universal access to “sexual rights.” “Especially young people” have problems “accessing abortion,” she said. There are “fundamentalists’ attacks” on these “rights,” she claimed.

Mrs. Cristina Gallach, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information at the UN, echoed the call for “universal access” to “sexual and reproductive rights.” She said that the issue of “sexual rights” is crucial for the sustainable development agenda, and part of the “human rights agenda.”

Despite the explicit mention of abortion, neither Mrs. Gallach, nor UNFPA’s Mr. Mora acknowledged the fact that abortion is not an international human right, and that UN member states, for whom they work, have repeatedly rejected such a right.

Moreover, none of the speakers mentioned that “sexual rights” enjoys no consensus among UN member states. Even the widely accepted terms “sexual and reproductive health,” and “reproductive rights” are understood to exclude both abortion and “comprehensive sexuality education” as fundamental rights. Even the United States has said that “sexual rights” are not human rights.

The Friday Fax asked the UN Secretariat, UNFPA and other panelists to clarify whether they were promoting free and confidential access to abortion and contraception without any form of limitation for girls and whether they were advocating the implementation as “international rights” even though they are not agreed to by UN member states. None of the panelists answered.

After the event, the young Ms. Sofia Tellez, from the Mexican NGO Red Mujeres, unsatisfied by the silence that followed the question, reached out to the speakers and asked again what they mean by universal access to “sexual and reproductive rights.” Instead of an answer, she was given a business card. Mrs. Montse Pineda Lorenzo, Advocacy Coordinator of Creacion Positiva, told her: “Send me an email, and I will answer.”

Another young student from Costa Rica, Esteban Zuñiga, asked the panel why the family was not mentioned. “If you are talking about education, and education of children, how can you not mention the family?” “The family is central in educating girls,” he said. Mrs. Pineda said the family was just another “patriarchal institution,” like school, and the Church.