(NEW YORK – C-FAM) At United Nations (UN) headquarters this week, the Obama administration continued its push for ever increasing access to legal abortion around the world. The Obama team has introduced language that has thrown a high level negotiation into a roil. The US proposal calls for “universal access” to “sexual and reproductive health services including universal access to family planning.” The document under consideration will culminate in the 2009 Annual Ministerial Review, which convenes next week in Geneva.
The sticking point for many delegations and what has driven apart the usual solid European bloc is the use of the word “services” in the context of “reproductive health.” Way back in 2001 during negotiations related to the ten year review of the Child Convention, a Canadian delegate blurted out “of course everyone knows ‘services’ means abortion.” Ever since, the word “services” has been a topic of hot debate.
So controversial is the topic of “services” in the context of “reproductive health” that the usually impenetrable negotiating bloc of the 27 member European Union has imploded with Malta, Poland and Ireland splitting from their allies and joining the Holy See in opposing the measure.
Hillary Clinton very clearly explained to Congress late in April that "reproductive health includes access to abortion that I believe should be safe, legal and rare. . .We are now an administration that will protect the rights of women, including their rights to reproductive health care."
When speaking about how the president is seeking to promote "common ground" on the abortion issue, it would be nice to see more account taken of what he is doing the world over.