Posted on | June 10, 2014 by Mark Kowalewski
The International Youth Coalition (IYc) attended the UN Economic and Social Council Forum on Youth on the 2nd and 3rd of June. The two day forum brought youth delegates and representatives from member states around the world to the UN. The intent of the forum was to include young people in the discussion addressing the challenges we currently face and to consider the best ways to proceed forward. It became evident by the close of the first day that many youth attendees were not interested in finding solutions to pressing issues that stall the advancement of young people. They wanted to advance ideology that included an international education standard, abortion without the need for any parental notification, LGBT rights, an “Occupy Wall Street” revival, and some of the loudest applause followed calls for the downfall of capitalism due to the inequality they claimed it produces.
For more information on the forum and the IYc’s involvement, please review the following articles currently posted on the IYc website:
The World We Want is a World that Wants Us: IYc Attends the United Nations Youth Forum (Part 1)
Posted on June 3, 2014 by Mark Kowalewski
The IYc is currently attending the UN’s “Forum on Youth”, and we all agreed it got off to a fantastic start. During the opening session, we were very pleased to hear the slogan for youth that was repeated a few times during the introduction: “The world we want is a world that wants us!”
For more, click here.
The Myth of Secularized Medicine: IYc Attends the United Nations Youth Forum (Part 2)
Posted on June 5, 2014 by Karl Hetzke
During our visit to the UN this week, IYc had the chance to participate in a discussion on ECOSOC’s post-2015 development goals related to youth health. The discussion was intended to give feedback to the UN representatives about the goals themselves, and as a forum for non-governmental organizations, like IYc, to share ideas about how private activists can contribute to reaching the health goals ECOSOC set for the world’s youth.
For more, click here.
In the End, the Truth is Incontrovertible: IYc Attends the United Nations Youth Forum (Part 3)
Posted on June 7, 2014 by Ann Henebery
After attending the U.N. Youth Forum in New York this past week, I came to a very disconcerting conclusion. I heard representative after representative call for basic human rights, but then subsequently ignore the truth that unborn children are murdered when young mothers are given access to free, legal abortions. In fact, not only did they maintain an astounding double standard — calling for their own right to life and ignoring the same right that every unborn child maintains — but several representatives verbally attacked religious and traditional views as an “excuse” for opposing their secular progressive stances.
For more, click here.
Trying to be Ernesto: IYc Attends the United Nations Youth Forum (Conclusion)
Posted on June 9, 2014 by Mark Kowalewski
Now that the UN Youth Forum has concluded, it is fair to state that the IYc learned a great deal about the inner workings of the UN, however we departed New York City fully aware that much work needs to be done in order to save our generation from doom.
For more, click here.
Posted on | June 9, 2014 by Wendy Wright
A new report card on global governance finds the U.S. has declined in leadership on nearly every area reviewed. This is bad news for Americans, and especially for advocates lobbying the U.S. Senate to ratify the UN Disabilities treaty specifically so the U.S. can tell other countries what to do.
The Global Governance Report Card grades the use of international organizations, regional bodies, and informal coalitions on six issues: public health, climate change, global finance, nuclear nonproliferation, armed conflict, and terrorism.
IPS News Agency reports:
“The report card confirms a clear trend,” said Stewart Patrick, director of Council on Foreign Relation’s International Institutions and Global Governance (IIGG) programme, which issued the report. “Around the world, leaders are less willing to compromise and cooperate in global institutions – even when their interests align.”
U.S. leadership in mobilising other governments and international institutions to address these critical issues also seemed to falter during 2013, he added.
“The United States appears to be losing interest or capacity to marshal collective action to fight trans-national threats and or promote global goods,” according to Patrick.
This decline in U.S. leadership makes the primary – and seemingly patriotic – argument for ratifying the Disabilities treaty ring hollow. Supporters like Sen. Robert Menendez say joining the treaty would allow the U.S. to lead global efforts to require countries to obey the treaty. Yet this report shows both multilateral and U.S. efforts on the global scene are failing.
Right now, other countries do look to the U.S. as a role model on disability rights. How will they respond after the rather arrogant attitude behind the ratification effort for the UN Disabilities treaty? President Obama and others say it empowers the U.S. to tell other countries what to do, but would not subject Americans to the same standard.
They dismiss concerns raised by experts at senate hearings that government officials could use the vague language in the Disabilities treaty to expand abortion and degrade parental rights.
Since last week’s unanimous Supreme Court decision on a case involving a treaty, pressure to ratify the UN Disabilities treaty has ramped up. Obama’s Justice Department attempted to use an international treaty to prosecute a jealous wife of a local crime. The Supreme Court ruled against the Justice Department, but was silent on the larger question of whether treaties can be used by the federal government to expand its power.
Nevertheless, treaty advocates quickly issued press releases pushing for senators to ratify the Disabilities treaty, claiming the Court put all concerns to rest.
One federal agency misleadingly stated the U.S. cannot participate in UN meetings on disability rights or “lend its expertise” to other countries in developing laws. The National Council on Disability, which advised in drafting the treaty, says ratifying it permits the U.S. to “appoint a member” to the UN committee that assists in implementing the treaty.
Surely they know better.
No country appoints members to a UN committee. They nominate one candidate to be voted on by other countries. There is no guarantee the U.S. will win a seat. Even if elected, the members are independent and do not represent their country.
U.S. officials already participate in UN meetings to promote disability rights. The State Department has an extremely able Special Advisor for International Disability Rights whose focus is helping other countries.
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at a High-Level UN meeting on Disability and Development and – perhaps inadvertently – made the case the U.S. is already advancing the rights of persons with disabilities both in the U.S. and abroad.
The administration’s actions are worrying. Officials used a treaty to prosecute an American of a local crime. They have weakened America’s ability to promote global good, including for people with disabilities. And they are not truthful in making the case for ratifying the Disabilities treaty.
Their actions contradict the reassuring arguments for ratifying another UN treaty.
People with disabilities should be wary of empty promises that empower government officials but not them.
Posted on | June 4, 2014 by J.C. von Krempach, J.D.
Today, Slovak MPs from SMER (Social-Democrats) and KDH (Christian-Democrats) voted to define marriage as a ‘unique bond between a man and a woman’ in the Constitution. Ruling party SMER agreed to the demand of opposition party KDH in exchange of their support for a judicial reform.
The support for the amendment in the chamber was overwhelming: 102 parliamentarians voted in favour of the constitutional amendment, while 18 voted against.
The Constitution was amended to make attempts to re-define marriage less likely in the future.
This amendment seeks to go further than banning same-sex “marriages”. Its explanatory referendum specifies that “it will be impossible for the rights and duties associated with marriage to be conferred in any way other than a legally recognised union between a man and a woman”.
Although only in an explanatory memorandum, the statement seeks to outlaw any form of union for same-sex couples.
With this amendment, Slovakia follows a trend among European countries: it is the seventh EU Member State (after Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Hungary, and Croatia) to have enacted such a clarification, belying false assertions (e.g. by the ideologically biased European Court of Human Rights) that there wer a general trend towards recognition of same-sex “marriages” in Europe. In this sense, it is hoped that today’s decision will have its due impact even outside Slovakia, as it will further undermine the credibility of such assertion, which unfortunately are a recurring feature in the ECtHR’s case-law.
Posted on | May 28, 2014 by J.C. von Krempach, J.D.
It is rather late in the evening and I’m afraid I simply do not have the time tonight to write an in-depth commentary on the European Commission’s Soviet-style communication through which it informed the public that it was not going to follow up on the EU´s most successful citizens´ initiative, ONE OF US. I have read through the 28-page document, but it really isn´t worth reading, so I don´t recommend it. It simply represents a complete and disastrous failure of a bureaucratic structure to engage with the outside world. A case of intellectual autism, so to say.
When reading the document, at some point it occurred to me that I should carry out a simple word search to find out how often the Commission uses the word “carefully” in order to describe it´s own dealings with the petition. It seems that everything has been “carefully analyzed”…. “carefully calibrated” …. “carefully examined” …. etc. The paper is cracking full of such self-congratulatory phrases, and it appears that the Commission must be the most “careful” institution in the world, which makes its answer to Europe´s biggest citizens´ initiative in recent history immune against all intellectual, moral, political, or other criticism. And of course, “careful” is not the only word the Commission uses when it comes to praising itself.
But what is the result of all these “careful” examinations? In two words, what the Commission seems to be saying is that because the EU primary law (i.e., the EU Treaty, or the EU Fundamental Rights Charter) “explicitly enshrines human dignity, the right to life, and the right to the integrity of the person”, it is not necessary that those principles be reflected in its secondary legislation, let alone in its concrete actions. Now that is really brilliant! Europe´s citizens will be enthusiastic, won´t they? That is what they aspire to, isn’t it?
And of course, the Commission´s “rigorous” ethical commitments when funding stem-cell research projects (no projects are funded that are illegal in the country where they are carried out, or that are illegal in all 28 Member States) will certainly make a big impression on all readers. They are so compellingly explained that they simply don´t leave any room for doubts and criticism. How lucky we are to be ruled by such an awsomely wise and morally rigorous administration!
It is clear that the organizers of the ONE OF US petition will not accept this as an answer to their proposal: one doesn´t collect the signatures of nearly two million citizens to get this kind of declaration of moral bankruptcy in return.
In reality, this day marks a fundamental shift in the debate around ONE OF US. One may or may not agree with the initiative´s goals, but from now on what is at stake is not any more the abortion issue, but something even more fundamental. With today´s silly and misguided communication, the Commission has, with one single shot, sunk the Lisbon Treaty´s feeble attempt to introduce an element of democracy into the EU´s constitutional set-up.
Is anyone still surprised if citizens express frustration and contempt with the Brussels bureaucracy?
EU Commission: Definition of sexual and reproductive health is to be determined by individual member states
Posted on | May 28, 2014 by Rebecca Oas, Ph.D
Earlier this month, Maltese European Parliament member Claudette Abela Baldacchino posed the following question to the European Union (EU) Commission, requesting a written answer:
“The notion of sexual and reproductive health rights [SRHR] appears to be interpreted in varying ways in international treaties and national legislation.
Can the Commission provide an analysis of how Member States interpret the notion of sexual and reproductive health rights?”
Tonio Borg, the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, provided the following answer (emphasis added):
“The Commission is aware that no common view exists in the EU Member States regarding sexual and reproductive rights. In the recent United Nations Commission on Population and Development on 7-11 April, the EU was not in a position to present a united position on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The World Health Organisation defines sexual health as a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. Reproductive health addresses the reproductive processes functions and system at all stages of life.
Sexual and reproductive health is safeguarded by sexual and reproductive rights. In the Beijing Platform for Action (1995) it is stated that those rights are based on human rights of equality and dignity and include the right to be informed of and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of fertility regulation of their choice.
The European Parliament Resolution on sexual and reproductive health and rights of 4 December 2013 notes that ‘the formulation and implementation of policies on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and on sexual education in schools is a competence of the Member States’.
Member States are responsible for the definition of their health services policy and for the organisation and delivery of health services and medical care. As such, sexual and reproductive rights fall under the exclusive responsibility of Member States.”
This is consistent with the views Mr. Borg expressed during the hearing evaluating his candidacy for the post of health commissioner. During the hearing, he faced several pointed questions regarding his Catholic faith and his views on abortion and homosexuality. Regarding abortion, he said the following:
“On other issues relating to abortion and other matters, these are matters to be exclusively decided by the member states. When answering questions from those who want to liberalize this practice and those who want to restrict this practice, it has been the standard answer, and that will be my standard answer as well.”
Like Ms. Baldacchino, Mr. Borg comes from Malta, which is known for its strong pro-life laws.
Mr. Borg’s answer is also consistent with that of the EU Parliament, which adopted a document earlier this year including the following statement:
“Notes that the formulation and implementation of policies on SRHR and on sexual education in schools is a competence of the Member States;”
This document was accepted in place of the “Estrela report” which drew widespread grassroots protests from throughout Europe for its strongly pro-abortion position. The rejected “Estrela report” said the following (emphasis added):
“Insists that SRHRs need to be rooted in existing international human rights instruments and key political consensus documents; regrets that the EU position formulated in preparation for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which recognised SRHRs as a cross-cutting issue key to other aspects of development, was not reflected in the final UN document due to the absence of a unified EU voice”
When it comes to abortion, the only consistent international position is that it remains highly controversial, both in Europe and elsewhere.
Posted on | May 26, 2014 by J.C. von Krempach, J.D.
Friends – especially those who remember the heated debates of the last months around the Estrela Report, the Lunacek Report = or the European Citizens’ Initiative ONE OF US – are asking me what I think of the outcome of yesterday’s elections to the European Parliament (EP), and what that outcome means for the future of Europe. Does the success of right wing political parties (and, correspondingly, the clear defeat of the political left) help in defending the right to life, or the institutions of marriage and the family?
The short answer is: not really.
The electoral triumph of right-wing extremists (such as the Front National, which won 25% of the vote in France) or populist EU-sceptics (such as UKIP, the “UK Independence Party”, which, advocating the UK’s exit from the EU, came first in Britain) is nothing we can rejoice about. The success of those parties indicates that something has gone seriously wrong in the EU – but it does not contribute to the solution. At the same time, the French right-wingers and the British EU-haters are by far not the only extremists who have made it into the EP. The extreme left (for example SYRIZA in Greece) have also been highly successful – not to mention the extremist anti-life and anti-family movement D 66, which won the first place in the Netherland, or the ultra-nationalist and openly secessionist N-VA (Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliance) in Belgium. The new European Parliament looks rather chaotic, and extremism seems on the rise.
But what will that change in everyday life? Probably not much. The sad reality is that the EP is not very relevant as a political institution. European voters, even if they are not all that familiar with the EU’s complicates institutional set-up, have understood that much – and this may be one of the reasons why they seem rather careless about whom they have elected as their representatives…
The extremist political movements will remain powerless in the EP. Even if they join forces, which probably they will not do, they will not be able to prevent any EU directives from being adopted, or to change the EU from within. To change the EU, it takes an intergovernmental conference.
To understand the EP, it is necessary to understand that this Parliament views itself not as a place where there is a debate between the supporters of the government and the supporters of the opposition – but the entire Parliament wants to be the opposition against the other EU institutions, i.e. the European Commission, and the Council of the EU (in which Member States’ governments are represented). The result is that there seldom are any genuine political debates in the European Parliament. In actual fact, there is, and always has been, a super-sized de facto coalition between Conservatives (European People’s Party, EPP), Socialists, Liberals, and Greens. When matters of substantial importance are to be decided (such as the adoption of a new Directive or Regulation, or the ratification of a new free trade agreement, these parties usually all vote together – and there is no rift between left and right. Indeed, there is a common interest that unites them: the institutional interest of the European Parliament. Whenever there is a problem, “more Europe” (i.e., additional powers for the EU, and in particular the European Parliament) is the proposed solution. This is what turns the EP into a uniquely consensus-oriented Parliament – and at the same time into one that is very far away from the real concerns of many citizens.
A rift between left and right only become visible when the EP debates social issues on which anyway it has no competence (such as abortion, homosexual rights, etc.), such as was the case with the Estrela and Lunacek Reports. In those cases, the political left will usually charge an attack against fundamental cultural and moral values, whereas the right will try to defend them. The only difference is that the EPP is often unsure of itself, and ashamed of voting together with more right-wing groups, whereas the socialists and liberals have no hesitation to join in with even the worst leftist extremist groups (some of whom represent un-repenting pre-1989 Communists) in what they describe as a “fight for human rights”. These are thus the situations in which radical political groups can be decisive – but it is always in the context of non-binding texts such as the Estrela Report.
In those contexts, it is hard to tell whether the defence of core values such as the right to life, the freedom of conscience and religion, or the institution of marriage has, as a result of yesterday’s elections, become easier or more difficult than it was before. It is certainly good that the EPP remains the strongest group in the EP, even if the once considerable advance over the Socialist group has dramatically decreased. On the other hand, it is noticeable that the Socialists, Liberals, and Greens have also suffered bad losses. Of the four political groups that, according to the gay lobby, have been playing a leading role in promoting the homosexualist agenda in the EP, three are among the clear losers of the elections: the Socialists, the Liberals, and the Greens. Only the Communists are among the winners, benefiting from the general surge of extremisms of all colours.
Bruno Selun, the secretary and organiser of the European Parliament’s highly influential homosexualist caucus (called “Intergroup”) recently was heard saying that he feared that the success of right-wing parties such as UKIP or the Front national might mean that mainstream conservative parties, i.e. those within the EPP group, might return to defending more genuinely Christian democratic positions on abortion and homosexuality than they have done during the last few years. That may well be true. Being just as leftist and liberal as the Socialists and Liberals has not been a winning strategy for the EPP: it has not won them any new votes – but it has estranged many voters and opened wide spaces at the right end of the political spectrum. To win those voters back, the EPP will have to show that it still is socially conservative.
This finally brings us to the last question we intended to discuss here: who will be the new President of the European Commission? Is Jean-Claude Juncker, the lead candidate of the EPP, now set to get the top job?
One thing is clear: Martin Schulz, the outgoing EP president and self-proclaimed socialist lead candidate has not been successful as a candidate, even if he himself apparently finds it hard to accept his defeat. But there is nothing in the election result that would warrant his claim that he must be placed on top of the next Commission: the Socialists did not come first, but only second – and they have actually lost some seats. This is not what winners look like.
On the other hand, Jean-Claude Juncker also is not the winner of these elections. Even if the EPP still is the largest political group in the EP, it should also not be forgotten that the nomination of Mr. Juncker has not prevented it from losing a huge number of seats. It would thus hardly be correct to say that Juncker has “won” the elections.
Mr. Schulz and Mr. Juncker have both said that democracy would be undermined if the EU heads of governments failed to nominate for the post of Commission President any other person than the “lead candidate” of the political group that, following the election, has the biggest number of seats in the EP. But that claim is spurious. First and foremost, because the selection of the Commission President is and remains a prerogative of the heads of governments, and there is no provision in the EU Treaties that would impose on them an obligation to nominate any “lead candidate”. And secondly, because both Schulz and Juncker owe their positions as “lead candidates” only to some obscure back-office deals within their respective political groups. There is nothing to suggest that any of the voters in yesterday’s election cast his or her vote with any particular motivation to make Mr. Schulz, or Mr. Juncker, the next president of the Commission. Both candidates were imposed on the electorate, and one fails to see how democracy would be undermined if someone else were to be nominated for Commission president, given that the wider public had no influence at all on who would be nominated as “lead candidates”.
But the main argument that speaks both against Mr. Schulz’ and Mr. Juncker’s candidature is that both are men of the past. Both belong to the political establishment that has been running the EU for at least the last 20 years, and who have made and defended all the misguided decisions that are responsible for the dramatic crisis the EU currently finds itself trapped in. Why on earth should anyone believe that either Schulz or Juncker has a strategy to lead the EU out of this disaster that they have themselves contributed to create? Mr. Juncker as a new Commission President would not symbolize a fresh start, but rather the opposite.
Posted on | May 23, 2014 by Stefano Gennarini, J.D.
No one ever heard about the U.N. Committee Against Torture until today, when every media outlet decided to take note of the obscure U.N. panel of 10 experts because they brought up Catholic clergy sex abuse.
Unfortunately reporters with major media outlets don’t always have the time to fact check their work because of deadlines. Instead of looking into the issues in any detail they repeated what the U.N. committee told the Vatican in Geneva.
If you look at the mainstream media reports you will find no mention of the responses of the Vatican to many of the questions brought up in the report of the committee. The Holy See actually responded to the very concerns raised in the concluding observations during a webcast meeting with the committee over two weeks ago. This journalistic failure means that the reporting on this story does not tell the whole story.
Specifically, there are a few cases that stick out, where one is even tempted to speak of selective reporting.
The news articles do not mention that the Vatican denied categorically that it ever moved priests around to avoid liability to sex abuse victims. If this ever happened in a particular dioceses the Vatican was not involved in any way.
The articles don’t explain that the only power the Pope has outside the wall of the Vatican City State is of a spiritual nature. The Holy Father cannot prosecute or arrest anybody outside the Vatican. The most he can do is suspend or defrock a priest.
Reporters brought up specific episodes mentioned by the committee to which the Holy See had responded already. They did not mention that the committee ignored the responses entirely. For example the case of a Polish Vatican diplomat who is accused of having abused children in Santo Domingo. The Holy See has already stated that it is carrying out a criminal investigation, since the diplomat is presently within the Vatican, and that any extradition, if any will take place after this investigation. But the committee said that the Vatican is refusing to extradite this diplomat to Poland (whose own jurisdiction in the matter is not even clear).
Similarly, mainstream reports mention the episode of an Archbishop in Australia who did not hand over documents addressed to the Vatican to the Government because the request for the documents was not made through diplomatic channels. The Vatican did not say the documents were off limits, as the committee and the reporters imply, it simply insisted that proper diplomatic channels should be followed.
I could go on… But will devote myself to something more productive.
This whole affair reflects very poorly on the news media and the U.N. human rights framework, for all our sake, lets hope everyone forgets it. The unfortunate truth is, I doubt anyone will remember the U.N. committee after this, but they sure will remember the smear on the Catholic Church.
Posted on | May 23, 2014 by Stefano Gennarini, J.D.
The Vatican highlighted positive aspects U.N. report from a committee that says the Pope is responsible for the conduct of every clergyman in the world.
In a press release issued this morning in response to the publication of the concluding observations of the committee against torture the Vatican was magnanimous. Archibishop Tomasi, who represents the Holy See in Geneva had a similar approach in comments to John Allen of the Boston Globe. But a full communique from the Vatican has some choice words for the committee, basically telling the committee: thanks for your suggestions, we disagree with you, and we don’t think you even have the authority to say what you have said, but thank you.
Make no mistake, the committee’s observations on the the Holy See’s compliance with the convention against torture are disingenuous and even facetious. The committee did everything it could to put the Holy See in a negative light, short of saying that it had violated the convention against torture.
Right from the start the observations reject the limited scope of the Pope’s jurisdiction, saying that the Pope is responsible for the actions of every priest under his “effective control.” The committee is alluding to the fact that every catholic priest swears fielty to the Pope, without saying as much. But the committee is willfully overlooking the fact that once outside the walls of the Vatican City State the Pope has no compulsory jurisdiction over anyone. Only countries where priests reside and operate have criminal and civil jurisdiction over those priests. Outside the Vatican the Pope can only exercise control in spiritual matters involving clergy and lay persons. This is a voluntary and spiritual jurisdiction.
This simple fact, also known as the separation of Church and State is lost on the U.N. ”experts” because it would deprive them of an avenue to attack the Church. The committee is trying to paint the separation of Church and State as a dishonest attempt by the Holy See to avoid liability. Aside from the fact that the Holy See has never sought to avoid liability on this issue, it is the committee who is being duplicitous here.
The committee ignored many of the answers provided by Tomasi earlier this month during a two day interrogation in Geneva and even meddles with Canon Law. And even suggested the right canonical penalties for priests who are found guilty of sex abuse.
As I said in First Things last week this whole charade was a political attack and had nothing to do with human rights. It is not even just about Church-State relations. It is about the Holy See’s moral stance on abortion, contraception and homosexuality. U.N. committee experts and U.N. bureaucrats are actively working to undermine the moral position of the Holy See, and they are resurrecting the child abuse sex scandal that rocked the Catholic Church a decade ago to do just that.
This was a cheap shot and will do nothing to bolster human rights for anyone. If anything, it further undermines the U.N. committee and the convention against torture.
On a positive note, the concluding observations say nothing about abortion. The committee needs to show more of this kind of restraint in the future if it wants to help promote human rights.
Posted on | May 22, 2014 by Rebecca Oas, Ph.D
Ever since reducing maternal mortality was established as one of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), abortion advocacy groups have been working hard to affix their own goals inextricably to the global effort to reduce the incidence of death of mothers in childbirth.
As the MDGs near their expiration, some the most outspoken activists in favor of legalizing abortion worldwide have been raising notes of concern and frustration. At Slate, Amanda Marcotte, accused American NGOs of ignoring the topic of abortion entirely, partly due to laws limiting their ability to use government funding to promote abortion in foreign countries. She also cites Jill Filipovic, who wrote for Al Jazeera America that “maternal mortality is down, but the proportion of maternal death and injury caused by unsafe abortion has not changed.”
This echoes comments made earlier this year at a conference in the Philippines by former UNFPA head Dr. Nafis Sadik, who cited statistics saying that maternal mortality has decreased by 40 percent, yet “deaths due to unsafe abortion have not declined at all.”
As I wrote previously, it’s a bit misleading to say abortion-related deaths have not declined at all. When the pie gets smaller, and the pieces get smaller proportionally, that’s still a decline, just not a disproportionally large one. Of course, maternal health statistics are notoriously changeable. In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) was forced to revise their estimates after a rival source of global health estimates published far lower numbers. I recently wrote about how that 40 percent decrease in maternal mortality could owe more to a strategically pessimistic “before” picture than to successful interventions – other estimates put the decline closer to 22 percent.
But what has gone largely unchallenged is the claim that abortion accounts for approximately 13 percent of maternal deaths worldwide. Sadik and Filipovic have used this as an argument that more attention should be paid to “unsafe” abortion, by making it legal, for starters. But their basis for making that argument recently took a hit when the WHO published new estimates of maternal mortality by cause.
The new numbers come from a survey of multiple studies published between 2003 and 2012, analyzing the causes of maternal deaths between 2003 and 2009. Published in the Lancet, the WHO report attributes about 8 percent of maternal deaths to abortion – that’s roughly 40 percent lower than the 13 percent estimate they made in 2005, which by the way falls squarely within the survey period. In fact, if you compare the WHO’s 2003-2009 estimates to the 2005 estimates by cause category (hemorrhage, sepsis, etc.), no other individual cause shows as sharp a decrease as abortion.
In fact, the reported decline could be even higher if you take into account the methodology behind the sorting into categories. In 2005, the WHO had a separate category for “unsafe abortion,” which required that the fatal abortion be “performed by people lacking the necessary skills or in an environment lacking the minimal medical standards, or both.” In contrast, the “abortion” category in the 2003-2009 survey dropped the “unsafe” qualifier for induced abortion and also included deaths due to ectopic pregnancy and spontaneous abortion (miscarriage).
If the new WHO numbers are reliable, then not only have abortion-related deaths decreased proportionally with other causes of maternal mortality, they’ve actually outpaced other causes – the causes pertaining to childbirth itself. It’s also worth noting that the pro-abortion groups can’t easily claim credit for this – not after crafting so much rhetoric around the idea of having been left behind by the maternal health agenda.
Far too many women still die giving life, yet there are signs of hope: Latin America in particular has seen some significant reductions in maternal mortality in recent decades, largely due to long-term strategies that aren’t directly related to maternal health (and certainly aren’t due to legalizing abortion), like improvements in transportation, communication, and health care infrastructure. Sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest incidence of maternal mortality, will presumably follow a similar pattern, and hopefully sooner rather than later.
When that happens, it will be a victory for those who have worked tirelessly to ensure that every pregnancy and birth is survivable for both mother and child. But it could leave those whose attitude toward maternity is more of a zero-sum proposition in need of a new cause to co-opt – or force them to campaign on behalf of abortion for its own sake.
It’s quite telling that they’ve worked so hard to avoid doing so thus far.
Posted on | May 20, 2014 by Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D.
Why are the nearly three million children who die on their birth day every year still ignored? This is the question posed by a report released today in the Lancet. And it’s the question that should be on the table at the World Health Assembly this week in Geneva. The high number of deaths hasn’t changed over the years, and neither it seems have the reasons for the utter failure of the world’s maternal health policy elite–see my blog of three years ago.
Delegates interested in making a real difference through the nascent Sustainable Development Goals now under negotiation will be keen on the report’s findings that what could save millions of maternal and newborn lives in the coming years is straightforward: more skilled birth attendants and better health facilities.
Posted on | May 16, 2014 by Wendy Wright
Papua New Guinea is a deeply Christian country — as the prime minister’s Easter message beautifully and unashamedly conveys.
This week, Christian leaders — clearly respected in Papua New Guinea — issued a warning of “outside” forces seeking to push abortion in their country.
It comes on the heels of a UN meeting where Papua New Guinea’s ambassador pushed abortion and sexual rights. The annual meeting of the UN Commission on Population and Development is easily overlooked by small governments that cannot keep track of what their delegations at the UN are doing.
But the ambassador’s position was so odd that I contacted newspapers in Papua New Guinea to find out if they were aware that their government was promoting abortion and sexual rights.
A few weeks later the Catholic bishops released an open letter to their political leaders, stating in part:
Today we face new and dangerous trends we feel compelled to speak about. Traditionally Papua New Guineans have always been open to new life, to children born to their families. Abortion, which the majority of our citizens find abhorrent, remains illegal in Papua New Guinea. However, political leaders face great pressures from within and outside of PNG to take another view. Will the PNG Government one day decide that killing the unborn child is a good thing for PNG, something that will bring the blessing of God upon our people? We pray that our leaders will never bow to this temptation for political and economic gain.
This brings us to another concern of the Catholic Church, the growing political ideology that links development with population control. The thinking of many politicians these days aims them in this direction. Why is it, they wonder, that education and health services are rapidly worsening in Papua New Guinea, and what can be done about it? And look at all the unemployed and frustrated young people who gather on the streets of our towns and cities every day looking for opportunity where there is none. This is becoming a dangerous situation. What can we do?
Unfortunately, instead of looking creatively for positive solutions, government seems to have settled on a strategy that does not address the underlying causes of our decline. Many politicians think that population growth, too many people, is the culprit. Put the brakes on having babies and everything will be okay again, they say. Thus the door is opened for such organizations as Marie Stopes to come in and temporarily “sterilize” great numbers of women as a way to slow the growth of population. Hormonal implants are promoted and injected on a massive scale with little thought about the physical, emotional and social effects on young girls and women and on the community as a whole.
Have you, our political leaders, really thought this through? Do you know what the people of your electorates might think about this strategy? Do you worry about what could be the consequences of tampering with nature in this way? Do you really believe that population control, seemingly an easy-fix, will actually work, will solve the serious problems we continue to face? Such a young, proud and energetic independent nation, and now some want to take aim at fertility as the solution to our troubles?
We are all fond of speaking about the great riches of our country, of our culturally diverse population and its energy. We rejoice in the great wealth contained in the abundance of the natural resources God has put here in our care. Perhaps a much better plan would be to link these two things, our wealth and the natural growth of a vibrant population, as we seek to find the secret to becoming a successful nation with prosperity, peace and justice for all.
They have reason to worry. The UN Population Fund and Planned Parenthood initiated a scheme targeting Papua New Guinea and other Pacific Islands to impose abortion and sexual rights.
The UN Population Fund (responsible for crafting China’s one-child policy) and Planned Parenthood held a meeting in SE Asia with a hodge-podge of people holding government jobs in Pacific islands (they were not representing their governments).
They signed the Moana Declaration, a statement clearly written by radical abortion/sexual rights advocates.
Here is a UNFPA article lauding the Moana Declaration. Note that it admits it is not an agreement by governments, but a commitment by individuals:
“Participants also agreed to institutionalize mechanisms through which support whether technical, advocacy or otherwise, could be generated by a political leader wishing to advance issues related to the ICPD or sexual and reproductive health and rights.”
Random officials signed this declaration. They were urged to get onto their government delegations (and probably had their expenses paid) to, what turned out to be, a key UN meeting held this April.
At the UN Commission on Population and Development, the ambassador for Papua New Guinea declared the Pacific islands endorsed the Moana Declaration.
By the end of the Commission, after Pacific island governments were notified of their delegations actions, many were silent. The UN Population Fund couldn’t muster support for the radical agenda – and even distanced itself from their radical agenda, preferring to obfuscate their goals.
Abortion and sexual rights advocates have failed at creating international rights. They’ve broadened their approach to infiltrating inside governments.
Christian leaders in Papua New Guinea are onto them.
Posted on | May 15, 2014 by Wendy Wright
Today is the International Day of the Family. The Holy See held a terrific event (more will be reported on that) with Catholic, Muslim and Jewish leaders. UN officials also held a high-level event in a formal room with experts providing research on the critical role of the family for individuals and society.
What did the U.S. (absent from the events) have to say on this one day set aside to honor the family?
The Department of State released a joint statement with Finland on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
A search on its website for any mention, at any time, of a Day of Family turned up nothing.
With the two UN events, it is not likely the Int’l Day of the Family took the U.S. by surprise. It was sending a message. Despite talk of equality and human rights, certain people take priority over the most important people and institution necessary for individuals’ well-being.
And it was a not-so subtle attack on the foundation of the family: parents, male and female.
Their actions speak more about the pettiness of the current U.S. leadership than it does about the importance of the family. Try as they might, they won’t diminish people’s devotion and celebration of their family by hijacking the day into a mean-spirited attack on the fact we are created male or female.
Posted on | May 15, 2014 by Grégor Puppinck, Ph.D
The ECLJ, in a report addressed today to the UN, denounces the killing of babies who survive abortion in theUnited Kingdom, within the context of the periodic review of theUnited Kingdom by the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
According to some United Nations experts, opposing abortion would be a kind of torture, it would also be a violation of children’s rights. Such an accusation is scandalous; it strongly undermines free speech and religious freedom and questions the impartiality of some prominent members of the Committee. It was formulated recently against the Holy-See by members of the UN Committee against Torture combating the teaching of the Catholic Church on the sanctity of life.
Earlier this year, in February, another UN Committee, on the Rights of the Child (CRC), “urged” the Holy-See to review its position on abortion and to amend Canon law in order to allow it. This UN Committee pretended that opposing abortion would violate the rights of the child, omitting the fact that the Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises the “needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth”.
The Holy-See answered those accusations by stating that its goal is, indeed, “to prevent children from being tortured or killed before birth, as is stipulated in the Convention”. UN Committees are composed of “experts” designated by the Member states. They are often academics or NGO activists with a political background.
Those accusations against the moral opposition to abortion is the last move of a long term strategy to impose on States, through International law and agencies, a “human right to abortion”, and making opposition to abortion a crime. The abortion lobbies are currently very active as they want access to abortion to be included in the “post-2015 development agenda”, under the pretext of improving maternal health worldwide. This post-2015 agenda, under negotiation at the UN, will determine the priority development goals for decades to come. It will be supported by billions of dollars, and governments will have to implement it. Therefore, the issue at stake is huge.
In the past decades, especially during theCairoandBeijingconferences on population, development and women, the pro-abortion forces were stopped by a coalition of States lead by the Holy-See. This explains the current operation of destabilisation and attacks against the Catholic Church in the UN: it is aimed at weakening its influence during subsequent negotiations.
The ultimate goal of the abortion strategy is to win on the field of values: making pro-life immoral and pro-abortion moral, and to silence pro-life advocacy. This would be a complete inversion of values: indeed, in reality, abortion is torture and causes maternal mortality. Abortion, whether legal or not, not only kills a human being but also carries serious physical and psychological health risks and contributes to maternal mortality. Countries that restrict abortion have lower maternal mortality rates than those who facilitate it.
Responding to those attacks, the ECLJ, as an NGO with consultative status with the ECOSOC of the United-Nations, has actively denounced abortion, especially late-term abortion, as a specific kind of torture and violation of children’s rights.
- In March 2014, the ECLJ made an oral intervention and a written statement (A/HRC/25/NGO/91) before the Human Rights Council of the UN, in Geneva, denouncing the practice of late-term abortion and the killing of babies who survive it.
- Then, in April 2014, inan “urgent appeal”, the ECLJ called on the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to carry out an investigation on children who survive late-term abortion, and on methods of late-term abortion, especially in the United Kingdom and Canada: in Canada, between 2000 and 2011, 622 babies who survived an abortion were left to die, and in 2005, the United Kingdom recorded 66 such cases. The ECLJ affirms that cruel methods of late-term abortion constitute torture, especially one known as dilatation and evacuation – the foetus, still alive, is dismembered and pulled out of the womb in pieces. The ECLJ expects the Special Rapporteur to take action.
- Currently, the ECLJ is also leading a coalition of NGOs denouncing before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the killing of babies who survive abortion, within the context of the periodical review of the United Kingdom. Today, it submits a report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. This Committee should question theUK government on our accusations and take them into consideration for the drafting of the official report.
The ECLJ will continue advocating for the respect of life, both within the UN and the European institutions, using all legal procedures available.
While there is clear evidence of hundreds of real cases of torture and infanticides in countries such as theUKandCanada, the question is whether the UN Human Rights bodies, such as UN Committees on the Rights of the Child and against Torture will prove themselves competent and independent enough to fulfil their obligations. Today, there is an urgent need for them to prove their fairness.
Posted on | May 13, 2014 by Lisa Correnti
Last week US lawmakers used the Nigerian kidnapping crisis to introduce the latest version of the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA).
Versions of IVAWA have been introduced in every Congress for the past several years. Supporting policy that will safeguard women and girls from violence especially where they are most at risk, in conflict regions in developing countries, should have support from both democrats and republicans.
Why then have republican lawmakers rejected it? Because a primary goal within IVAWA is to advance a very strategic sexual and reproductive rights agenda sure to include US funding of abortion.
While some elements of the bill do address the safety of women and girls, the bill establishes as the implementing guideline — for offices and initiatives established by the Obama administration to outline and define all programs. This would include defining programs on sexual and reproductive health and LGBT issues. The funding of advocacy efforts to overturn restrictive laws on abortion and homosexual marriage is sure to be included.
Since President Obama took office overseas assistance for Family Planning has been prioritized over all other global health initiatives with a funding stream that has almost doubled with hundreds of millions of dollars flowing to abortion providers.
Introduced by Senator Boxer – a longtime supporter of unrestricted access to abortion and sexual rights for adolescents, passage of IVAWA is supported by international abortion groups knowing they will be recipients of more US funding – IVAWA states that 10% of appropriated funding must flow to women-run organizations.
Reproductive rights and abortion groups are rallying supporters with the usual rhetoric and writing op-eds trumpeting IVAWA as the solution to abuses like the Nigerian girls kidnapping.
If this bill has any chance of passing, lawmakers must amend with language that defines a comprehensive plan that is deliberate in its efforts to combat violence against women and rejects the radical feminist ideology that is being mainstreamed throughout our foreign policy by the State Department. IVAWA would codify these initiatives which we would be stuck with long after Obama has left Washington.
Posted on | May 13, 2014 by Stefano Gennarini, J.D.
Posted on | May 13, 2014 by Rebecca Oas, Ph.D
C-FAM’s Stefano Gennarini has a new article at First Things discussing the recent meeting in Geneva between the representative of the Holy See and the UN Committee Against Torture.
During the meeting, the US expert Felice Gaer opined that prohibiting abortion is a form of torture, to which Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Silvano Tomasi replied that abortion itself is torture.
Gennarini discusses how the committee were unable to grasp the concept of separation of Church and State – because in their worldview, only the State exists.
The committee will publish its official report by the end of the month – and Gennarini predicts it “won’t be good for the Holy See.”
Posted on | May 9, 2014 by Stefano Gennarini, J.D.
The Holy Father met today with the heads of U.N. agencies and the Secretary General as the U.N. system is gearing up for the next big thing: the post-2015 development agenda—a set of goals and targets that will be development priorities for governments and international institutions for decades to come.
Billions of dollars in development aid will be spent on the priorities that find their way into the post-2015 development agenda, and everyone wants a piece of the pie.
Governments, NGOs, pharmaceutical companies, private foundations and international organizations that make up the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) establishment have their sights set on getting some of that money, and they want to use it for abortions.
Pope Francis, like his predecessors had no qualms about saying where his priorities are.
…an awareness of the dignity of each of our brothers and sisters whose life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death must lead us to share with complete freedom the goods which God’s providence has placed in our hands, material goods but also intellectual and spiritual ones, and to give back generously and lavishly whatever we may have earlier unjustly refused to others.
When John Paul II told Nafis Sadik to keep abortion out of U.N. development plans in 1994 because it was a “heinous crime” he got a lot more attention than Francis. The present media blackout on abortion issues is disquieting. The same happened in the middle of the week in Geneva when the Vatican told U.N. Experts that abortion is a form of torture. It is disquieting when the only voice in the world speaking out for millions of unborn human beings is silenced by the media.
The mainstream press focused instead on his comment about “legitimate redistribution of wealth by the state” misunderstanding the emphasis of the Holy Father entirely. The Holy Father was certainly exhorting those present that a generous disposition is essential for authentic human development to take place, but he did not say that every re-distribution is legitimate as the AP seems to suggest, or that he demanded that it take place. That misunderstanding is possibly due to the literal translation of his statement. What the Holy Father actually said is that where redistribution takes place, it should be done in a legitimate way, and that when carried out so, it is indeed legitimate for redistribution to take place. The context of his words is as much Venezuelan style redistribution as the Tea Party uprising in the United States.
The Holy Father also attacked the “throwaway culture” of our times equating it with what his predecessors terms the “culture of death,” and spoke of the need to include the family in development plans. Francis has stated before that abortion is part of a throwaway culture.
Posted on | May 7, 2014 by Lisa Correnti
The international community is outraged or it should be, in the abduction of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by the militant Islamist group – Boko Haram.
Missing now for three weeks, these girls were kidnapped in the middle of the night from their school with reports that they have been trafficked into sexual slavery or are being sold as child brides.
Amnesty International is right to alert the world to take action in demanding for efforts to return these girls safely home. But, this event should give Amnesty pause, to re-examine a possible policy change advocating for the legalization of prostitution.
A recent event at the UN conference on women featured former prostituted women who condemned human rights groups and UN agencies for supporting the legalization of so-called “sex work.”
Rescued women argue that legalizing prostitution will create a “right” for men to buy sex. This increase in demand for young girls can only be satisfied by an increase in trafficked girls. The average age of a trafficked girl into sexual slavery is 12-13 years old.
Contrary to what is being reported to support legalizing prostitution – most prostituted girls and women want an exit strategy.
Amnesty International should take serious note of this egregious human rights abuse and consider how their future advocacy might endanger more vulnerable young girls.
For more information go to the Coalition Against Trafficked Women: http://www.catwinternational.org/
Posted on | May 6, 2014 by Lisa Correnti
More government funding is the goal and abortion groups know how to get it – exploit rape victims.
American taxpayers now fund abortion for rape, incest and health exceptions in Medicaid, for federal employees, federal prisons, military personnel and in the District of Columbia.
Next on the agenda for abortion supporters – the Peace Corp.
President Barack Obama’s 2015 budget proposal includes abortion coverage for Peace Corps volunteers and abortion supporting members of Congress – Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Rep. Nita Lowey will introduce bills to permanently provide this coverage.
Sadly, abortion advocates have one solution only in offering help to women that are victims of rape – abortion. No mention of security protocol to prevent attacks…No mention of counseling services….No mention of the further harm perpetrated on these women when they experience medical and psychological side effects from their abortion.
Abortion groups tell the same narrow story – a victim of rape not able to fund her abortion. What they keep hidden is that abortion providers receive hundreds of millions of dollars from governments, foundations and private donors to provide services to low income women.
There is no need for Americans with deep opposition to abortion to have to fund abortion with their tax dollars.
Members of Congress should oppose the Peace Corp Equity Act.
The UN Special Rapporteur On Torture Called To Investigate On Children Born Alive After Late Abortion
Posted on | May 6, 2014 by Grégor Puppinck, Ph.D
In an “urgent appeal”, the ECLJ has called the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to investigate on children born alive after late abortion, and on methods of late abortion, especially in the United-Kingdom and Canada: in Canada, between 2000 and 2011, 622 babies born alive after an abortion were left to die, and 66 in the United Kingdom in 2005. Some cruel methods of late abortion constitute torture, especially the one called dilatation and evacuation: the foetus, still alive, is dismembered to be pulled out of the womb in pieces.
The ECLJ has communicated to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture cases of torture due to late abortion. Appointed by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on Torture can examine questions relevant to torture in all countries. He transmits urgent appeals to States, undertakes fact-finding country visits and submits annual reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.
Scientific evidence proves that foetuses and premature babies can feel pain at least as much as adults. Foetuses are responsive to touch at 8 weeks and have the physical structure to experience pain at 20 weeks.
As early as 16 weeks, an infant can survive for a while out of the womb, and it is considered viable at 22 weeks. However, in Canada, there is no legal limit for abortion, even if medical rules recommend limiting abortion on demand to 22 weeks. In the UK, abortion is legal until 24 weeks, and until the end of pregnancy in case of foetal anomaly.
British Department of Health figures show that 2860 abortions at 20 weeks or more were carried out in England and Wales in 2012. In 2012, 160 abortions were done after 24 weeks, including 38 between 28 and 31 weeks, and 28 after 32 weeks. 66 babies were thus aborted after 28 weeks, which was the viability limit defined by the WHO until 1975: an infant born at that gestational age can survive without medical help.
In Canada in 2011, there were 823 abortions between 17 and 20 weeks, 549 after 21 weeks. These figures are severely underestimated since they do not include Quebec (more than 26,000 abortions a year, including over 1500 after 14 weeks) nor clinics, though more than half abortions are done in clinics.
Late abortion being difficult to perform, it happens that babies are born alive after an abortion. In 2007, a study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology concluded that about 1 in 30 abortions after 16 weeks’ gestation result in a born-alive infant. At 23 weeks’ gestation, the number reached 9.7%. In that case, they are left to die without any care, or killed. The Guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommends killing these babies by lethal injection. When they are not killed, they are not fed, not even covered, no care is given them even if they were wounded by the attempted abortion. They are left to suffer and die alone. According to official statistics, between 2000 and 2011 in Canada, 622 babies were born alive and left to die after an abortion. They were 66 in 2005 in the United Kingdom, where no statistics were published on this issue the following years.
Concerning Syria, the Special Rapporteur recently stressed that deprival of food, water, shelter and medical care constitutes a crime against humanity. Depriving newborn babies of elementary care, whatever the conditions of their birth, constitutes torture and should also be considered a crime against humanity.
Some methods of abortion, especially dilatation and evacuation, should be banned because of the inhumane suffering they cause for the foetus. According to the statistics of the Canadian Institute for Health Information, 1226 abortions in 2010 and 1341 in 2011 used the method of dilatation and evacuation in Canadian hospitals (except Quebec and not including clinics), while among the 160 late abortions in England and Wales in 2012, 43% were by dilatation and evacuation.
In the case of dilatation and evacuation, the cervix is dilated, then the “content of the uterus” is pulled out with a clamp. In the end, the pieces are examined to make sure everything has been removed. This means that the body is gathered like a puzzle, because in many cases it has been dismembered during the operation. If there was no feticide injection first, or if the injection did not cause death, the foetus was alive while its members were being torn off one after the other. This frightfully cruel method is inhumane and constitutes torture.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-512129/66-babies-year-left-die-NHS-abortions-wrong.html and http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/66-british-babies-survived-abortion-all-were-left-to-die-without-medical-ai
 According to a study, the injection effectively induced fetal death in 87% of women. This means that 13 % survived. Nucatola D, Roth N, Gatter M. A randomized pilot study on the effectiveness and side-effect profiles of two doses of digoxin as fetocide when administered intraamniotically or intrafetally prior to second-trimester surgical abortion. Contraception. 2010 Jan;81(1):67-74. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2009.08.014. Epub . Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20004276
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