UNFPA Annual Report Puts “Reproductive Health Services” Before Development

UNFPA's recently released annual report says that promoting "reproductive rights" and contraception, especially among adolescents, is the primary focus of the organization's work. Claiming that "every minute, 190 women are forced to confront the possibility of an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy-one that could have been easily prevented if only they had access to contraceptives," the report justified the UN agency's spending two thirds of its annual budget on the reproductive health agenda, but said that even more would be needed in the future.

UNFPA intends to put pressure on countries to spend more money for "reproductive health services" but spending more on national health priorities will not be enough, according to the report. The report acknowledges that many governments have already established reproductive health programs but laments that "millions of pregnancies are still unwanted or mistimed." Besides spending money governments will be pressured to change policies. Specific measures to get countries to comply will be: undertaking advocacy to increase national investments in family planning services, promoting increased access to condoms and advocating more condom distribution, "expanding the choice of methods,"  improving the quality of services, increasing the number of service delivery points and undertaking advocacy and capacity-building to expand services to adolescents.

Despite numerous claims that the organization is "abortion-neutral" and that "UNFPA does not speak for or against the legalization of abortion," the report states that the organization is working to promote "family planning as a means to reduce unsafe abortion." The term "unsafe abortion" is used by UNFPA officials to mean "illegal" abortion. The report also states that UNFPA will promote "reproductive rights" and "reproductive health services," both of which have been misused by UN agencies and committees to be synonymous with abortion.

During the last meeting of UNFPA's executive board meeting, several nations expressed serious concern about UNFPA's lack of accounting transparency and accountability and demanded reform of the agency. Executive Director Thoraya Obaid does not acknowledge these concerns in her forward to the report and the report is silent on these concerns. Obaid says she is heartened by UNFPA's successes but that even "more needs to be done" and that the future work of UNFPA will seek "to link reproductive health, population and gender with the broader issues of poverty reduction." The report stated that 60% of UNFPA's budget of $389 million, or $148 million, went to the reproductive health programs, compared with $51 million dollars on population and development programs. 

UNFPA was charged by investigators from the US and British governments with aiding and abetting the forced abortion program of the government of China. As was reported in the New York Times, UNFPA was also charged with supporting a coercive family program in Peru, where native women were sterilized without their consent or were made to exchange their fertility for bags of groceries. The US government withdrew its annual contribution from UNFPA many years ago and has never reinstated it.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage