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U.S. secretary of state Mike PompeoGage Skidmore

August 23, 2019 (C-Fam) — The U.S. Government has reached out to foreign capitals to request support for U.S. pro-life efforts at the United Nations. Such a high-level pro-life effort by a U.S. administration is unprecedented.

A joint letter signed by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary Alex Azar of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was sent last month to ask governments to support U.S. pro-life efforts at the United Nations in the lead up to a global health summit this September.

UN delegates have been looking for such a letter for more than a year because it makes official the U.S. pro-life stance and will help them in standing up to abortion forces in the UN bureaucracy and the European governments.

The letter warns against “aggressive efforts to reinterpret international instruments to create a new international right to abortion and to promote international policies that weaken the family.”

Pompeo and Azar said these efforts were “disturbing” and that they “take the focus off real health issues and import policy debates that should be handled at the national, sub-national, or community level.”

Their letter also referred to the terms “sexual and reproductive health” and “comprehensive sexuality education” as “ambiguous terms and expressions that cause confusion and have become associated with anti-family and pro-abortion policies.”

The European Union rejected the final draft of a UN agreement on global health earlier this month because it does not allow the UN to promote abortion as an international right.

The final draft agreement in question is for the upcoming global summit on “universal health coverage” of the General Assembly on September 23. The European Union could not accept a statement in the agreement that “sexual and reproductive health” policies must be in line with past UN agreements “as adopted by the General Assembly.”

Past UN agreements exclude abortion as an international right or as a method of family planning and prevent the UN system from promoting abortion.

The Thai and Georgian facilitators of the negotiations added the language about past agreements “as adopted by the General Assembly” to placate insistent requests from the U.S. delegation since this Spring.

The modest compromise seeks to limit the ambiguity of the term “sexual and reproductive health,” which is often used to promote abortion as a right or as part of global health policy by UN officials.

The European Union's rejection of this proposal throws a wrench in the preparations for the upcoming summit, which many countries see as a priority, casting the shadow of the possibility of a summit without an agreement.

Universal health coverage is an urgent priority for many poor countries who rely on international aid to run their health programs, as the Friday Fax reported earlier this year.

The Thai and Georgian facilitators told delegations that they will be communicating with countries individually to try and resolve the disagreement about the final draft and will convene more formal negotiations early in September if needed.

Given the positions staked out by the EU and U.S. governments, it is unlikely that an agreement can be reached. The U.S. government does not want any ambiguity on the topic of abortion, whereas the EU is adamant that the terminology on “sexual and reproductive health” must remain open-ended and ambiguous.

The only possibility of a change in EU position is for EU member countries force the EU delegation to back off its aggressive pro-abortion stance.

Published with permission from C-Fam.