By Marie-Christine Houle

  TORONTO, Canada, November 19, 2007 ( – Last week was filled with surprise at the United Nations. The UN issued a report on Climate Change and the International Atomic Energy Agency released a report on Iran. However, what created special attention was the fact that, in the midst of the usual activities, something surprising occurred. The words “protection for the unborn” were uttered at the UN.

  In the context of a debate around a resolution calling for a moratorium of the death penalty, Egypt, Iran, Libya, Mauritania, Sudan and Bahrain introduced a right to life amendment which urged all member states “to take all necessary measures to protect the lives of unborn children”. The amendment was defeated.

  Egypt subsequently tried to introduce a second amendment to try to incorporate the following paragraph in the resolution “Reaffirms that every human being has the inherent right to life and stresses that abortion should only be admissible in necessary cases and only when the life of the mother or child is at serious risk”. This amendment was also defeated.

  The resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty passed after a recorded vote of 99 for, 52 against and 33 abstentions.

  Some may wonder what was concretely achieved by the abortion discussions. For once, member states agreed to discuss the right to life in its broader sense next year. More importantly, it was one of the first times that abortion was openly debated at the United Nations.

  Normally, abortion and population control are included in the draft resolutions using the terms sexual and reproductive rights and are rarely debated. Last Thursday, the rights of the unborn were at the forefront of the discussion.

  The historical UN bias towards anti-family policies was made evident in many resolutions passed last week. For example, under the umbrella of the promotion and protection of the rights of children, the resolution supporting efforts to end obstetric fistula was passed on November 15th and attempts were made to attach an abortion supportive agenda to the resolution.

  According to Wikipedia The Free Online Encyclopedia, obstetric fistula “is a severe medical condition in which a fistula (hole) develops between either the rectum and vagina (see rectovaginal fistula) or between the bladder and vagina (see vesicovaginal fistula) after severe or failed childbirth, when adequate medical care is not available.”

  Earlier this year, the UN, mainly the UN Population Fund and the World Health Organization, launched a campaign to end obstetric fistula. Unfortunately, as reflected by this latest resolution, the UN bodies seem to want to utilize any cause to promote sexual and reproductive rights (read abortion and contraception).

  The obstetric fistula resolution emphasizes the need to ensure access to trained medical personnel and mentions early childbearing as one of the main risks leading to maternal mortality. The fact that the resolution was discussed under the umbrella of the protection of the rights of children is not a coincidence. It gives the UNFPA and WHO’s emphasis that young girls are affected by this an opportunity for them to push a pro-abortion, anti-family agenda as a supposed solution to the fistula problem. However, obstetric fistula affects women of all ages. The Secretary General was asked to report on the implementation of this resolution under the item titled “Advancement of women”.

  For a brief few moments this week, the UN seemed to fulfill the role many see that it is supposed to play in the world. This was due to the tenacity of a few member states and not any willingness by the international body to face the abortion issue without hiding behind semantics.

  Some hope was generated that the UN will fulfill its true mandate of upholding human rights, including the right to the most basic right to life of the most vulnerable and innocent of all humans – unborn babies.


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