By Samantha Singson

  NEW YORK, November 30, 2006 ( – The United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) sponsored a gathering of 180 parliamentarians in Bangkok last week in an effort to get the lawmakers to pledge to promote “reproductive rights.” During the meeting, organized by UNFPA and the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD), the parliamentarians signed a statement pledging to prioritize: “the promotion and protection of sexual and reproductive health and rights”, “gender equality”, “unsafe abortion” and “safe motherhood”, all words, phrases and programs used to support abortion on demand.

  Claiming the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Program of Action as the guide for their work, the relatively small number of Parliamentarians also pledged to lead national efforts to “ensure that the new target on universal access to reproductive health is immediately and fully integrated into national development strategies and is given highest priority in the plans, implementation and monitoring of relevant government ministries.”

  Pro-life observers of the UN are concerned that UNFPA is trying to influence nations to liberalize abortion laws by promoting the contested ICPD document. They point out that the UN General Assembly has never defined the term “reproductive health” as including abortion, nor did the Cairo Conference. Even so, UN agencies like UNFPA, and intergovernmental organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), and UN treaty compliance committees continue to misinterpret the controversial ICPD document in order to pressure nations to liberalize abortion laws.

  Experts remain concerned about some of the other terminology that appears in the recent Bangkok document and note that some terms, such as “gender equality”, “safe motherhood” and “sexual and reproductive health and rights”, also remain sources of confusion, misuse and misinterpretation. 

  Regarding the term “safe motherhood”, Dr. Robert Walley, executive director of Matercare International, told the Friday Fax, “The international safe motherhood initiative, which was launched to reduce maternal mortality, now includes the provision of what is called safe abortion. To reduce maternal mortality it supports the killing of the unborn children. Thus, maternal mortality is being replaced by fetal mortality in ever increasing numbers. Most abortions in the world are performed for social and economic reasons. The awful reality is that once the mother has had her baby destroyed she is returned to the poverty and ignorance from whence she came.”

  The Bangkok meeting was the third global parliamentarians’ conference on population and development to review the 2015 goal of universal access to reproductive health care which was adopted at the International Conference for Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994. Previous conferences took place in Ottawa in 2002 and Strasbourg in 2004.  Participants agreed to hold another review session in 2009.