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NEW YORK, April 6, 2020 (C-Fam) — Abortion is “essential” in the UN’s just-released funding response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ appeal for $2 billion to help developing countries deal with the novel coronavirus published two weeks ago repeatedly highlights “sexual and reproductive health and rights” as a priority area of food security and health policy. Contradicting U.S. state governors who want to concentrate all medical personnel on the coronavirus emergency, World Health Organization officials and staff are promoting abortion as an “essential service.”

From the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, early in March, as governments looked to the World Health Organization (WHO) for guidance on how to deal with the coronavirus, officials of the international health agency promoted abortion in a guideline on “Clinical management of severe acute respiratory infection.”

“Women’s choices and rights to sexual and reproductive health care should be respected irrespective of COVID-19 status, including access to contraception and safe abortion to the full extent of the law,” the WHO manual reads, after pointing out that there are no known complications related to pregnancy from the novel coronavirus.

Last week, a WHO staffer said the WHO has been working to ensure abortion drugs are considered “essential” during a webinar hosted by a pro-abortion journal. She praised abortion groups urging governments to designate abortion “essential.” She also promoted the WHO’s official view that where access to abortion is difficult, women should self-administer abortions.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ $2 billion UN system-wide appeal makes “sexual and reproductive health” an essential category in the COVID-19 response. It calls on the humanitarian response to be guided by “Minimum Initial Service Package” or MISP, for reproductive health in emergencies. The UN manual which contains the MISP says that medical personnel should refer for abortions even against their consciences. Guterres’ plan also allocates $140 million to the pro-abortion UN population fund.

That abortion is such a central component of the UN response to the COVID-19 emergency undermines the Trump administration’s pro-life foreign policy. Even though Republicans in Congress kept abortion out of a $1.3 billion U.S. COVID-19 aid package adopted last month, UN funding is not subject to the Trump administration’s expanded Mexico City Policy. It also undermines the Helms Amendment to U.S. foreign aid law, which prohibits the use of any U.S. foreign assistance from being used to perform abortions.

Pro-life advocates and U.S. Senators have argued that because of loopholes in the Mexico City Policy, the Trump administration must continue to aggressively expand and apply pro-life restrictions on abortion funding like the Helms Amendment, Mexico City Policy, and the Siljander Amendments to international institutions. Currently, there are no effective oversight mechanisms to ensure compliance with U.S. pro-life laws and policies in the U.S. foreign policy apparatus at the Congressional and U.S. agency level.

Published with permission from C-Fam.

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