Women Deliver: The Polished Veneer and the Ugly Truth

By Rebecca Oas, Ph.D. | May 31, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 (C-FAM) Abortion was rarely mentioned by dignitaries on stage during the international webcast portions of Women Deliver, a global conference on family planning. The non-webcast breakout sessions, however, featured late-term abortionists, radical activists describing how to skirt abortion laws, and World Health Organization experts promoting their how-to-do-abortions manual.

An attendee asked why the manual doesn’t call for more supervision of the abortion process by health professionals. “Medical abortion should not be over-medicalized,” said the expert.  Abortion drugs “put power directly in women’s hands.”  The Women Deliver audience enthusiastically applauded.

Several speakers promoted late-term abortions, which are associated with higher rates of complications.  An activist from Latin America boasted of establishing hotlines to provide information on self-induced abortions in countries with laws protecting the unborn.  She admitted that abortion drugs purchased on the clandestine market could be expensive or fake, but reminded the audience that the women could seek post-abortion care in hospitals when they suffer complications.

Speakers also gave advice for getting around legal limits on gestational age.  In a session dedicated to “scaling up” abortion services, Nigerian gynecologist Talemoh Dah dedicated his entire presentation to late-term abortion.  When asked by an audience member to define “how late is late,” Dah recited the legal limits in some African countries, then said that “abortion can never be late.”

Dah warned the audience that a “well-formed fetus” could lead to a national scandal if photographed by pro-life activists, and urged abortionists to ensure that the baby does not survive the abortion.  “Some people take care of fetal survival before expulsions [through methods like] partial birth abortion, but it can never be late to expel any pregnancy.”

Bela Ganatra of the World Health Organization promoted their updated technical guidance on abortion.  Her main focus was on medical abortion and the importance of minimizing clinical, legal, and regulatory barriers around abortion access.  She did not dispute any of Dah’s comments on late term abortion. They fit within the recommendations of the technical guidance, including the disposal of aborted babies in sewers or latrines.

Ganatra stressed the need to remove all barriers to abortion except those required by law, and pointed out that the guidance includes a policy section recommending the removal or reducing existing legal restrictions.  She added that the guidance does not tell governments what to do, but provides “evidence and rights-based arguments.”

Late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart was featured in another session, wearing a button proclaiming himself a human rights defender.  Carhart accused the pro-life movement of persecuting him, harassing and intimidating current and potential abortion providers, and creating unreasonable barriers to women’s access to abortion.

Carhart concluded, “abortion providers do not kill children.”

During the question time, C-FAM’s Wendy Wright asked, “Who defends women who have been abused by abortion providers? Women’s groups are silent, and medical boards sweep the abuses under the rug.”

Carhart, who recently received media attention after the death of one of his late-term abortion patients, would not respond. “I don’t think there’s an answer deserved,” he mumbled.