By Katharina Rothweiler

NEW YORK, NY, March 27, 2009 (C-FAM) – The Commission on Population and Development (CPD) will meet next week at the United Nations (UN) to mark the 15th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (CPD), a landmark gathering held in Cairo, Egypt in 1994 that resulted in pro-life and pro-family nations pushing back population controllers who sought to advance a global right to abortion.

Abortion is again expected to be a contentious topic as the CPD meets on “The Contribution of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development to the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millinnium Developemnt Goals (MDGs).” Proponents of abortion trimmed their sails in the Bush years, as they did not want to lose ground, but it is expected that with support from the new Obama administration, abortion advocates will now mount an offensive seeking recognition for broad “reproductive rights.” The new administration prioritized “sexual and reproductive health and rights” at the Commission on the Status of Women meeting earlier this month, and will likely do the same at CPD.

Although this year’s theme will focus on commemorating the Cairo Program of Action and the wide-ranging MDGs, a draft outcome document seeks to introduce “family planning and reproductive health” programs to “combat” poverty in “least developed countries.”

Critics note that the draft being circulated contains an attempt to expand MDG 5, which aims at reducing maternal mortality, to include “universal access to reproductive health.” When the MDGs were adopted, countries debated and rejected inclusion of abortion within their scope. UN agencies like the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and pro-abortion donor nations like Denmark, however, have sought to rewrite the MDGs by referencing reproductive rights.  During the Bush administration, the United States repeatedly spoke out against such ploys as illegitimate.

Pro-abortion non-governmental organizations such as International Planned Parenthood and Ipas have issued statements in advance of the CPD conference calling for increased stress on sexual and reproductive health and promoting “safe abortion,” as well as allowing abortions to be performed by non-physician nurses and midwives in developing countries.

Critics charge that this push diverts attention from the problem of poverty, reflecting the social policy predilections of first-world women rather than the economic and social concerns of women in the developing world.

Last year’s CPD meeting saw attempts by Norway and Canada to reference “sexual and reproductive health care and services,” words interpreted by some to be a euphemism for abortion. At the same time, pro-lifers were cheered by pro-natalist statements made by Russia and an acknowledgement by a Uruguayan demographer that her country needed to address problems associated with a graying and shrinking population.

Eyes will also be on Mexico’s delegation this year. Last year Mexico’s CPD representatives took positions inconsistent with Mexican federal policy protective of unborn children. Mexico’s lead delegate from last year, Elena Zúñiga Herrera, will be chairing this year’s CPD conference.

The 42nd CDP session will commence on March 30 in the United Nations Headquarters in New York and conclude on April 3.

(This article reprinted with permission from