Latin American pro-life leaders are questioning how their delegations performed at this year’s United Nations Commission on Population and Development (CPD) meeting, and the picture is troubling. Brazil, seconded by Uruguay, pushed “reproductive rights” throughout the week-long session, while only two nations – Peru and Chile – made reservations affirming that abortion remains illegal in their countries.
As the CPD conference began the week of March 30, nations from the developing world known as the G-77 met to work out common positions, especially on controversial “sexual and reproductive rights” language that appeared in the initial draft resolution.
A number of mostly Islamic nations proposed that such language was not proper to the General Assembly Second Committee, whose purview is economic and financial issues, but rather should be debated at the Third Committee, which routinely deals with controversial social issues. This would have been a victory for pro-lifers. However, the proposal was blocked by Brazil, Uruguay and, reportedly, Colombia, while the delegations of Chile, Peru and Honduras gave muted support to the Brazilian position.
Throughout the negotiations, Brazil took radical positions in favor of reproductive rights, and was joined regularly by Uruguay. Sources told the Friday Fax that Brazil was “working” in particular with the delegations of Argentina and Peru to have them take more extreme positions.
The performance of representatives of Honduras, a strongly pro-life nation whose constitution provides that unborn children generally possess the same rights as those born, was especially disappointing. Sources inside the negotiations told the Friday Fax that at certain times it appeared that the more radical delegation from Uruguay was allowed to speak for Honduras, and that Honduras lent its name to two controversial proposals, one of which called for insertion of “reproductive and health services” language that some have interpreted as including abortion.
Uruguay’s delegation was criticized as being ideologically-driven. A year ago, Uruguay was represented at CPD by a professional demographer from Instituto Nacional de Estadistica who gave an objective, non-ideological presentation on challenges posed to Uruguay’s national development by a graying population and the emigration of younger people. This year, however, Uruguay sent a political representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who touted efforts to achieve “fertility reduction” as part of its ongoing “sexual and reproductive health” measures.
In contrast, despite the efforts of certain pro-abortion Mexican delegates, including one appointed from Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida, to have the Mexican delegation advance reproductive rights language, by mid-week Mexico moderated its posture. Some have attributed this to direct intervention from Mexico’s capital. Some also discerned a similar change in Peru’s position as the week advanced.
At the conference’s end, only Peru and Chile wound up explicitly affirming their country’s pro-life laws and constitutions, with the Peruvian statement the stronger of the two. Other Latin American nations whose constitutions explicitly protect the unborn, including Guatemala and Paraguay, remained silent.