This week, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) hosted its annual population award ceremony at the United Nations (UN) to honor an individual and an organization for “outstanding contribution” in the population field, including family planning and “reproductive rights” advocacy — Dr. Mahmoud Fathalla, a former advisor to both the World Health Organization and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), and a Nicaraguan-based non-government organization that has been critical of the Nicaraguan government for instituting a complete ban on abortions.
After introducing the 2009 Population Prize laureates, Ban Ki-moon pledged his support for “reproductive health” and called for “a world where women do not die needlessly in childbirth; where girls get the education they deserve; where young people are protected from HIV; and where couples can decide how many children to have.”
In his acceptance speech for the award in the individual category, Dr. Mahmoud Fathalla called the “powerlessness” of women a “serious health hazard” and lamented how frequently, women were “coerced into motherhood by denying them not only the power and means to control and regulate their fertility but also by denying them choices in life apart from childbearing and childrearing.”
In a 2005 speech for Ipas, an organization that manufactures devices used to perform early abortions, Dr. Fathalla outlined his “pro-choice” stance, stating that “Contraception may decrease the need for abortion, but contraception will never eliminate the need for abortion…[W]ith the current levels of use effectiveness of contraceptive methods there is a very simple mathematical model that every year there will be between 10 and 20 million unwanted pregnancies among contraceptive users.” Fathalla concluded, “The real social choice is not between abortion and no abortion, but will for practical purpose be to have it under the law or against the law, to have it safe or to have it unsafe.”
The Movimiento Comunal Nicaragüense (MCN) was given the Population Award in the institutional category. MCN’s advocacy includes joining with other “reproductive rights” organizations to criticize the Nicaraguan government for implementing a ban on all abortions in the country in 2006.
Earlier this year, MCN joined prominent abortion advocates such as IPPF, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Ipas to send an open letter to newly-elected US President Barack Obama calling for: significant increases in U.S. funding for “comprehensive sexual and reproductive health,” the removal of remaining restrictions on U.S. funding for abortion information and services, and restoration of US funding for UNFPA and IPPF, who have been ineligible for US foreign aid because of their abortion involvement overseas.
Past recipients of the UN Population Award include other abortion advocates such as Nafis Sadik, former head of UNFPA and Qian Xinzhong, who as minister of China’s State Family Planning Commission was responsible for overseeing China’s draconian one-child policy, which included forced abortion and mandatory sterilization.
The winners were selected by the Committee for the United Nations Population Award which is currently composed of representatives from Algeria, Bangladesh, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Iran, Malaysia, Peru, Sweden and Tanzania, with UNFPA serving as the administrator.