US Rejects Participation in Danish Campaign to Put Abortion in Millennium Development Goals

The United States has rejected an invitation to join a new campaign launched by the Danish government that calls on governments “to accelerate implementation of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 3″ which calls for “gender equality and women’s empowerment.” It is believed that the Danish Campaign will go beyond the mandate of the MDG’s and be used to promote a new MDG on reproductive health, something that has been rejected by UN member states yet repeatedly pushed by advocates of abortion.
     
Earlier this year, the Danish government initiated the “Torch Campaign” to encourage governments and civil society to “Do Something Extra” to accelerate achievement of MDG 3. The campaign also calls on governments to ensure women’s “sexual and reproductive health and rights,” a term that has been interpreted by some to include abortion, claiming that “access to services and information on sexual and reproductive health will empower women to make their own choices about the number of children they have, safe pregnancy and delivery.”
     
In 2000, UN member states agreed to adopt eight broad, largely non-controversial Millennium Development Goals which address issues like eradicating poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, and reducing child mortality.  None of the MDGs makes any mention of “reproductive health” and neither does the Millennium Declaration upon which they are based.
     
Since failing to get a new, separate goal on reproductive health at the five-year review of the MDGs in 2005, pro-abortion advocates, including International Planned Parenthood Federation and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), have sought to attach reproductive health to the existing MDGs, with a particular focus on MDG 5 on improving maternal health.  
     
UNFPA has been claiming over the last year that there is a new reproductive health target under MDG 5 (maternal health) based on a single sentence buried in an annex of a 2007 Secretary General Report, even though delegations like the United States have reminded the organization that UN member states have not agreed to the creation of any new targets. 
     
UNFPA has signed onto the Torch Campaign and continues to try to attach reproductive rights to the MDGs. Executive Director Thoraya Obaid stated that “UNFPA is committed to working with partners worldwide to guarantee the right to sexual and reproductive health and to advance women’s empowerment and gender equality.” 
     
UNFPA’s Torch Campaign commitment states that the organization will attempt to raise nearly $500 million to improve the lives of women through the Thematic Fund on Maternal Health. Apart from focusing on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and reducing maternal death and disability, the fund will also target “the prevention of unsafe abortion and the management of its complications.” According to UNFPA, “addressing these issues will raise the profile of the broader development issue of women’s empowerment and gender equality.”
     
Other “torch bearers” include the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), UNICEF and the Danish Family Planning Association.
     
At the UN high level meeting on the MDGs scheduled for September 25, the Danish government will present all Torch Bearer commitments to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

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