UN Agency Criticized for Placing Abortion Before Development

An international network of pro-family groups is calling on the UN Population Fund to place development before its promotion of abortion and contraception under the agency's "reproductive health services."

The criticism from the World Congress of Families International (WCF) comes in response to the UNFPA's recently released annual report which stated that "reproductive rights" and contraception are the primary focus of the organization's work.

The report warns 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."

"UNFPA acts as if this was one of the great tragedies to befall humanity – that a woman is expecting a child whose conception wasn't planned," commented Allan Carlson, secretary of the pro-family network.

UNFPA spends $148 million annually on reproductive health programs, compared to only $51 million on development programs.

The World Congress of Families, founded by Carlson in 1997, is calling on the UNFPA "to re-think its dogmatic support for so-called family planning and focus instead of helping nations plan for the needs of their people – born and unborn," according to a new release Friday.

While expressing concern that the agency treats a people as a "plague – a hindrance to economic development and social stability," Carlson pointed out that the most densely populated nations – including some in Southeast Asia – are among the most prosperous.

"UNFPA's agenda is the same as that of Planned Parenthood. If it could, it would locate a condom dispensary in every school and neighborhood in the Third World," added Carlson.

In recent years, the UN agency has come under scrutiny from the U.S. government and Britain for working with countries like China which reportedly forces abortions on women as part of the nation's family planning.

For that reason, the Bush Administration has withheld funds – a total of $195 million to date – from the UNFPA since 2002, citing the 1985 Kemp-Kasten Amendment, which states no federal funds may go to any organization that "supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization."

The UNFPA has also been charged with promoting forced sterilization in Peru, where indigenous women were sterilized without their consent or were bribed into undergoing the procedure for bags of groceries, according to The New York Times.

UNFPA denies that it supports coercive programs in China and claims to be "abortion neutral." In the annual report, the agency stated it promotes "family planning as a means to reduce unsafe abortions."

Pro-family and anti-abortion advocates, however, say that the term "unsafe abortions" is used by the agency to described "illegal abortions," indicating that legal abortions would be considered valid means of reproductive health services supported by the agency.

The WCF is an international network of pro-family organizations, scholars, leaders and people of goodwill from more than 60 countries that seeks to restore the natural family as the fundamental social unit and the "seedbed" of civil society. The network is a project of the Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society, which is based in Rockford, Ill.

At WCF's fourth meeting last May, pro-family advocates adopted the Warsaw Declaration, which stated that "the future of humanity passes by way of the family" and that such families accept "joyful responsibility for every child-to-be, versus the fear of the child expressed in the contraceptive mentality."