OTTAWA, November 26, 2002 ( – At a meeting in Ottawa last week, over 100 parliamentarians from 70 countries gathered to promote more abortion disguised under the terms “safeguard women’s reproductive rights, improve access to reproductive health services (including family planning), reduce maternal mortality and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.”  Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) delivered the keynote address at the conference and Steven W. Sinding Director-General International Planned Parenthood Federation also delivered a major address.

At the end of the Ottawa meeting, the lawmakers signed a ‘Statement of Commitment’, outlining specific actions they will take in their countries to promote ‘reproductive health and rights and move the Cairo agenda forward.’

In her remarks, Obaid expressed her outrage with the United States for calling for a renegotiation of the Cairo Programme of Action to exclude the promotion of abortion.  “We do not need renegotiation; we do not need changes to already strong recommendations’” she said. Obaid also expressed bitterness at the United States decision to withhold funding from her organization due to its support for China’s forced abortion and coercive sterilization.  “The letters of concern that you sent in July after the United States Government announced its decision to withhold funding were deeply appreciated,” she said.  Obaid held her most acerbic criticism for the Population Research Institute (PRI), which provided audio and video evidence of UNFPA collusion with China’s coercive one-child policy, which led to UNFPA’s defunding.  While not mentioning PRI by name, Obaid said, “One vocal group has gone so far as to state that it wants to drive the final nail in UNFPA’s coffin and to close the tap that brings funding to UNFPA. Unfortunately, their campaign has become systematic and global, and has been given a voice in the legislatures of our major donors.”  In a comment which would apply to all pro-life groups as well as to most major religious denominations, Obaid said, “These groups claim to oppose abortion, but they refuse to acknowledge that the only effective counter to abortion is to promote reproductive health in all its aspects, including family planning. My friends, we must not allow a very small but very determined and vocal group of ideologues to reverse progress for women and dilute international human rights and the Cairo consensus.”  Many of the speakers at the event, and the statement of commitment referred to ‘ending unsafe abortions’  and ‘reducing maternal mortality’ as a reference to promoting abortion.  IPPF’s Sinding explained: “pretending unsafe abortion and the resulting mortality do not exist will not make them go away. We need to detoxify the issue of abortion, face this human tragedy head on, and deal with it. Who better to do that than policymakers like yourselves? You can initiate careful reviews of the actual situation in your countries and then stimulate rational debate about how to deal with unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortion. There are many policy approaches available to you. One of those is decriminalization. The Parliament of Nepal did just that in September of this year, opening the way to saving lives.”  Sinding offered no other “policy approach”.  Among the commitments the parliamentarians signed on to at the conference were:  * Strive to attain 5 to 10 per cent of national development budgets for population and reproductive health programmes.  * Give high priority to achieving universal access to reproductive health services   * Promote the reduction of maternal mortality and morbidity and of unsafe abortion as a public health priority and as a reproductive rights concern.  * Make every effort to achieve universal access to reproductive health services and commodities by the year 2015   Another meeting of the group is planned for 2004.  Worldwide, an estimated 50 million abortions, not counting chemical abortions, have been committed every year for the past decade or more.  See Obaid’s address, the Statement of Commitment and Sinding’s address:


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