U.S. Isolated at Population Conference Over Its Anti-Abortion Stand
December 16, 2002
At the UN-sponsored Asian and Pacific Population Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, on Monday, the United States was criticized for its rigid stand against abortion and its advocacy of abstinence over condom use for adolescents. Ministers and officials from more than 40 countries are participating in the conference, which is held every 10 years and focuses on family planning, population, reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and their effect on poverty.Adapted from:
Delegates say the United States has threatened to withdraw its support for an international family planning agreement, reached in 1994 in Cairo, claiming some phrases in it can be read as promoting abortion and underage sex. The United States wants many such phrases removed from the action plan that is to be adopted Tuesday at the end of the two-day conference.
Among paragraphs the United States wants changed are some that advocate providing sexual and reproductive health information to married and unmarried adolescents. One phrase it wants struck out says "consistent condom use" is a way to reduce vulnerability to HIV infection.
U.S. delegate A. Eugene Dewey told a news conference the "improvements" his side is seeking would ensure that the texts "do not imply an advocacy or a support for abortion." Dewey acknowledged the United States is isolated in its position: "Everyone else seems to be very happy with the language," he said. Dewey said it is untrue that the United States preaches only abstinence to adolescents. Rather, abstinence is preferred over condoms, he said.
UN Population Fund Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid said the phrase "reproductive health services" is not a code for "abortion services." The Cairo declaration clearly stated that abortion should not be promoted as a method of family planning, she said.
Earlier this month, the Bush administration blocked $34 million in funds appropriated by Congress for the UNPF. Dewey said that was because China, one of the countries where UNPF operates, has a "coercive" abortion and sterilization program.
12.16.02; Alisa Tang
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.