ROME, June 20, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – International pro-life advocates are claiming victory at a UN-sponsored meeting on the environment in Rio de Janeiro this week. The Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development has angered abortion lobbyists by excluding any mention of abortion, either explicitly or in coded language, in the conference’s outcome document.
Among the parties attending the meeting was the UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, a UN-recognized NGO that trail-blazed the international pro-life effort at these kinds of gatherings when it participated in the 1994 meeting on population and development in Cairo. SPUC director John Smeaton told LifeSiteNews.com the defeat of the abortion-pushers at Rio will give strength to governments, churches and the pro-life movement when it comes time to fight at the local level.
“Each brick in the dam or resistance to this tidal wave is crucial,” he said.
Smeaton cited the situation in Ireland as a case in point, saying the country “is under colossal pressure” to legalize abortion from the UN and EU. “Holding the line is exceptionally difficult for pro-life politicians and pro-life groups – resisting the tidal wave of abortions in entire countries such as we continue to do in Ireland and in Northern Ireland is a battle which is constant struggle,” Smeaton said.
Touted as a follow-up to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 UN-sponsored Earth Summit, the Rio meeting is already being called a failure by those who were hoping for a clear declaration making population control, including abortion and sterilization, a key component of efforts to preserve the natural environment.
Pro-life advocates and government representatives have spent months fighting efforts to include code words such as “reproductive rights” or “reproductive health services” in the final document. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Catholics for Choice and the International Planned Parenthood Federation were among the powerful lobby interests attempting to force the UNFPA’s new term “population dynamics” into the document’s language on sexual and reproductive health. The final document, titled “The Future We Want,” which will be signed by 52 heads of state on Friday, has completely excised this language.
Countries supporting the UNFPA included Norway, Iceland, the United States, Canada, Switzerland, the EU and Australia. Among the parties fighting the language of abortion were the UN delegation of the Holy See, the Russian Federation and a group of nations known as the G77 that promote the interests of the nations of the developing world against exploitation.
Timothy Herrmann of CFAM, a key player in the pro-life movement at the UN, noted that the African nations have been intimidated into silence on these issues, saying, “African delegations for one, are afraid that if they speak up that the funding they desperately depend on from organizations like the UNFPA will be cut.”
Various pro-abortion and pro-population control groups blasted the Rio document. Zonibel Woods, of the Women and Climate Change Foundation, lamented in an article published on the pro-abortion website RH Reality Check that the document, “falls short by failing to recognize that reproductive rights are also critical to the achievement of sustainable development.” Amanda Klasing of Human Rights Watch related how her organization and Amnesty International fought for “reproductive rights” language, lamenting, “It’s hard to understand why language on reproductive health and rights could cause such problems at a conference dedicated to seeking solutions for the earth’s currently unsustainable development.”
Other pro-abortion organizations were less specific in their criticisms, but expressed their disappointment as well. “Rio+20 has turned into an epic failure. It has failed on equity, failed on ecology, and failed on economy,” a Greenpeace statement said on Tuesday. The World Wildlife Fund, which has also supported population control, called it “less than satisfactory from any point of view” and the European Union denounced the document for its “lack of ambition.”
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Smeaton told LSN the work of the pro-life movement at such international gatherings is crucial. He noted the significance of the victory at the Council of Europe when that body voted down a resolution which would have called for the abolition of conscientious objection to abortion, contraception, IVF and euthanasia in all 47 member nations.
“The more that related resolutions and language are defeated at the UN, the more easily we will repeat our success. Such success – or failure – has a direct impact on the professional lives of doctors, nurses and those seeking their professional help,” Smeaton added.
Anthony Ozimic, SPUC’s communications manager, told LSN that the result at Rio would have significant impact on the actual working of health care on the ground.
UN-affiliated NGOs who run health care facilities and international aid programs, he said, will be guided by the policies decided at Rio. Such groups depend for their funding and permission to operate on the good will of domestic governments as well as the international agencies and charitable foundations.
“When they send out the next round of grant applications, fundraising letters and requests for planning permissions, any assertion linking abortion to sustainable development can be dismissed on the grounds that the link was discussed at Rio and voted down,” Ozimic said.
“When a regional health clinic run by a UN-affiliated group asks for money for abortion equipment, when in fact the local people need clean drinking water, the Rio document gives the minister and grant-dispensing benefactors a reason to say: ‘Abortion no, water yes’.
“And so when the local women come to regional health clinics, hopefully they will get desalination tablets instead of RU486.”