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U.S. Sends Shot Across Bow of UN, WHO with Multilateral, Pro-Life Health Declaration

November 5, 2020

by Jonathan Imbody

“At stake in this battle is the funding and prevalence of abortion, influencing societal views on abortion and securing or losing conscience freedom for pro-life healthcare professionals.”

At a signing ceremony in Washington, D.C. on October 22, 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar laid out a multilateral agreement that sends a clear message to the United Nations and the World Health Organization: Stop pressuring countries to submit to a radical abortion agenda and focus instead on consensus global health issues.

Led by the United States and now joined by 31 other countries, the Geneva Consensus Declaration lays down four pillars of priorities for international healthcare programs:

  1. Improving women’s health;
  2. Preserving human life;
  3. Strengthening the family; and
  4. Protecting national sovereignty.

The Declaration asserts, for example, that:

  • “There is no international right to abortion, nor any international obligation on the part of States to finance or facilitate abortion;”
  • “In no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning;”
  • “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State;” and
  • “Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.”

AAME health professionals laud the Declaration

As AAME President Dr. Jeffrey Barrows notes, “As an obstetrician, I especially appreciate the Declaration’s dual emphasis on mother and child. The Declaration reaffirms both that ‘motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.’ It also notes that ‘the child… needs special safeguards and care… before as well as after birth’ and that ‘special measures of protection and assistance should be taken on behalf of all children,’ based on the principle of the best interest of the child.’

“Countries must learn to work together on consensus global health issues,” Barrows continued, “rather than fight each other on ideological disagreements. Working together on consensus health issues, we can maximize our health resources and programs that will benefit all women while respecting the dignity of every person.”

Declaration counters UN, WHO abortion activism and agenda

The Geneva statement reflects the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy of the United States. According to HHS, the policy “negotiates health policy at multilateral settings where policies are debated and set, like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN).” Activists within both the UN and WHO have vociferously advocated for abortion on demand, reportedly pressuring countries behind the scenes with the threat of loss of funding and standing should they fail to enact the pro-abortion agenda into laws.

That pro-abortion activism and agenda falls well outside the founding mandates of these organizations. Often ignoring the cultural and religious values of many countries, the abortion advocacy of these agencies and ideologically aligned countries also diverts funding and energy from addressing solvable health problems on which there is universal agreement.

Abortion activism undermines action on solvable health problems

When surveyed on women’s global health, health professionals serving in medical missions around the world have overwhelmingly agreed that "Rather than advocating for abortion rights, the international health community, governments and international bodies should instead focus energy, time and resources on meeting women’s health needs for which there is widespread agreement regarding strategies."

They also overwhelmingly agree with the statement, "Abortion rights advocacy by some governments, world health and other international bodies is detracting attention and resources from women’s health needs on which there is widespread agreement."

Instead, these health professionals say that efforts should focus on addressing solvable women’s health issues such as maternal health, pregnancy complications, malaria and sexually transmitted diseases.

International abortion policies impact US policies and conscience freedoms

This international battle over abortion and health priorities is vitally important, not just for overseas patients and health professionals and institutions, but also for patients and pro-life health professionals and institutions in the United States. The international abortion movement (a) exerts significant pressure on U.S. policymakers to conform to “world opinion;” (b) reinforces the activism of U.S. abortion advocates; and (c) validates the policy agendas of pro-abortion U.S. politicians.

Because this battle impacts the funding and prevalence of abortion, influences societal views on abortion and threatens conscience freedom for pro-life healthcare professionals, it merits our effective engagement.

What can I do?

  1. Voteand advocate for life-affirming candidates for office.
  2. Urgepolicymakers in the White House, Congress and federal agencies to keep policies such as Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance that prevent U.S. funds from propping up the abortion industry overseas.

To learn more

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