UNFPA’s Biannual Checkup Reveals Symptoms of Abortion

By | September 22, 2016

NEW YORK, September 22, (C-Fam) Despite close ties with pro-abortion groups, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has been constrained from openly promoting abortion but that may be changing.

The UN agency’s mandate and risk of losing donor support has tied its hands in the past, but recently-released documents from UNFPA’s latest progress evaluation show its behind-the-scenes support for abortion at the same time as some stakeholders are urging them to promote it more aggressively.

In January 2015, 22 U.S. Senators wrote a letter to President Obama urging him to continue funding UNFPA, expressing disappointment that “number of misperceptions about the organization persist,” adding that “UNFPA does not promote abortion as a method of family planning.”

During UNFPA’s recent biannual executive board meeting, its Evaluation Office presented a report assessing UNFPA’s support for international family planning from 2008-2013.  The evaluators recognized UNFPA’s efforts to ensure the inclusion of contraceptive methods in countries’ essential medicines lists, ensuring their availability and funding through national budgets. In particular, they noted UNFPA’s “discreet leadership” in getting misoprostol onto several countries’ lists, “which has revolutionized access to safe abortion.”

Misoprostol is also used to prevent and treat excessive bleeding during childbirth, but its use to induce abortions, either alone or in combination with mifepristone, have made its inclusion on essential medicines lists contentious. Adding to the controversy, many of the groups most strongly promoting its use for postpartum hemorrhage are also promoting its use for abortions.

According to its evaluators, UNFPA support for increased access to misoprostol “helps to reduce the need for women to seek recourse to unsafe abortion.” Family planning organizations often argue that contraceptives reduce the number of abortions, but none of the uses of misoprostol are for contraception. Furthermore, if UNFPA does not promote abortion as a method of family planning, any discussion of its support for misoprostol in a family planning program evaluation is incongruous.

To conduct the evaluation, UNFPA interviewed global “key informants,” many of whom urged UNFPA to increase its support for abortion. In Cambodia, activists called for “stronger UNFPA leadership” in “awareness creation around availability of safe and legal abortion services in public facilities.”

Some evaluators noted that the emergency and humanitarian kits distributed by UNFPA do not include abortion-causing drugs, “which should be a standard item.”

“UNFPA is not bold about including safe abortion and post-abortion care in essential health services,” admitted the key informants, “although this could be done under the ‘sexual violence’ umbrella at no risk to UNFPA.”

The argument is that the sexual violence justification is distinct from the use of abortion as a method of family planning. Abortion as a response to sexual violence, particularly in conflict settings, has become a new battleground at the UN; having failed to create a right to abortion in human rights law, some pro-abortion groups have set their sights on distorting humanitarian law.

Presenting the results of the evaluation to the executive board, Evaluation Office Director Andrea Cook stated that UNFPA “had mixed success in promoting and supporting the integration of family planning” and discussed some “important challenges” including “holding governments accountable for maintaining or increasing financial and other commitments to family planning.”

One African delegate gave a strong statement asking how “UNFPA as a UN organization can hold a sovereign state responsible for results in an area.”

“It’s not possible; it’s not feasible; you can’t contemplate this.”