Bill Sherwin is the Executive Secretary of the Rome based international pro-life group European Pro-life.

Major victories were recorded in Mexico City during the recent United Nations Conference on Population by those countries, institutions and groups who oppose abortion.

Abortion rejected

The main victory came in the form of a Recommendation, thrashed out by the delegates of 140 countries present at the Conference, which urged governments: “To take appropriate steps to help women avoid abortion, which in no case should be promoted as a method of family planning.”

The unanimous consensus on this Recommendation (#18) was all the more significant when it is considered that the main aim of the entire Conference, organized by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), was to browbeat poorer Third World governments into accepting abortion as part of a family planning/population control program.

UNFPA undaunted

It was felt by experienced UNFPA watchers at the Conference to be more than coincidental that any reference to the unanimous rejection of abortion by the world’s delegates should be mysteriously absent from the final French and Spanish language versions of the “Report of the Conference.”

Further proof of UNFPA’s intention to use the Conference as high-powered sales exercise aimed at persuading Third World delegates to buy a population control package – featuring abortion as its central plank – was clearly evident in its continued citing of the Chinese experience as an example to be followed.

“Success” at a high price

Despite repeated assurances from the Secretary-General of the Conference, Mr. Rafael Salas, and others that population control programs must respect the right of individual couples to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children, most of the same speakers could hardly hide their admiration for the success of the Chinese “one child” policy, achieved through the widespread, documented and admitted use of forced sterilization and forced abortion – right up to birth.

U.S. position in line with consensus

Ironically, it was as a result of the world-wide outcry against the coercive measures used in China and their cold and inhuman efficiency in reducing the birth-rate there which caused the other major victory for pro-life advocates in Mexico City — the United States announcement:

1)      that it will not allow funds “contributed to nations which support abortion” to be used for that purpose;

2)      that it “will no longer contribute to separate non-governmental organizations which perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations”; and

3)      that it will not “contribute funds to the UNFPA”: before it receives “concrete assurances that the UNFPA is not engaged in, and does not provide funding for abortion or coercive family planning programs”.

The fear of losing US funding meant that the tone of the Conference had to be mellowed somewhat more than UNFPA officials would have liked, given its overall objective in staging the Conference in the first place – the sale of abortion-based population control programs to the Third World.

A slippery tight-rope was negotiated throughout which saw the organizers giving ground on lip-service issues such as the rejection of coercion and the reaffirmation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child, which again recognizes the right of children to protection before as well as after birth. (In recent editions of the Declaration children prior to birth were apparently not entitled to any protection.)

In return, the US was prepared to accept UNFPA assurances that it would now comply with the conditions outlined in the US Statement and as a result agreed to pay out the remainder of the US budget of $19 million to the UN agency.

It now remains to be seen – through vigilance and determination on the part of all groups and agencies – that no UNFPA funds are used directly or indirectly (via IPPF etc.) to fund abortion-related programs anywhere throughout the world.

Contradictory statements

The blatant attempt to convince unsuspecting Third World delegates that family planning/population control did not, does not and would never involve the use of abortion was in marked contrast to the statements made and documents distributed repeatedly throughout the ten day gathering which showed clearly “that abortion is essential to any national population growth control effort.”

Other more veiled statements were even more sinister in their implications. A Pakistan representative envisaged that her country’s population control program would go “beyond family planning measures” – obviously referring to China-style coercion. She was apparently unaware of the contradiction in her statement when she outlined the aim of such measures as “improving the quality of life, particularly for women and children.”

Abortion the solution

Where it was admitted that abortion might have a role to play – in the “elimination of illegal abortions,” it was depicted as being totally unrelated to the issue of population control. The solution to this separate and unrelated problem was, in the words of one representative, “to provide all women in the world with access to legal and safe abortions” – despite the proven fact that when abortion is made legal in a country the numbers increase dramatically and deaths rise cumulatively.

Inevitable conclusion

The continued attempts to confuse the delegates into thinking that all the reams of documents circulating before and during the Conference amounted to a thoroughly scientific and irrefutable conclusion – that family planning/population control was essential – began to have reactionary effect on many Third World representatives who felt that this was the worst and most blatant form of colonialism.

Also off-putting for (generally) Western-educated Third World delegates were attempts to depict population control as the solution to such varied international problems as:

-reduction in living standards -when many of the most highly developed countries in the world are the most densely populated;

-depletion of resources -when huge areas of many developing countries have hardly had their surfaces scratched;

-women‘s rights -when abortion and other features of population control programs have proved disastrous for the health and status of women;

-under-development -when countries like Zaire states that “our problem is not one of over-population.” It insists that “first we must develop,” and that from a present population of 30 millions “we could easily grow to and accommodate 120 million or more;

-world hunger –when many the $2 billion spent annually on population control would be more than sufficient to save the 31 million people starving to death in Africa’s Sahel region;

-health problems -when population control programs are causing greater health problems than they are claimed to resolve, and when natural, safe and provenly effective methods of child spacing are being all but ignored;

-global security –when the greatest resentment the poorer countries of the South bear towards the wealthier North is that it attempts to dictate how many children its families should have and when it tramples on its religious and cultural inheritance in imposing totally unethical and unacceptable methods of family planning on its people;

-unemployment –when schools and factories are closing more from lack of pupils and consumers than from the fact that there is not enough money both to raise children and enjoy a relatively high standard of living;

– migration -when the causes of this heart-rending disruption to people’s lives are often the result of government decisions to maintain the poor in their poverty and thereby make them more docile and politically dependent. Result – votes are cheaper and governments stay in power longer.

Facts versus censorship

Another factor which helped to educate Third World delegates on what was being put over on them during the Conference was the fact that also present in Mexico was a strong contingent of pro-life delegates from around the world who could point to the disastrous consequences and effects of legalized abortion and other so-called birth-control devices in their countries. These people had to overcome the almost ‘big brother’ type of censorship of the Conference organization to get this information to the delegates, many of whom had obviously been misinformed.

The information provided should make many delegates and the governments they represent think twice before complying with Recommendation # 10, which urges all governments “to sign and ratify the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women”.

The International Planned Parenthood Federation, one of the largest promoters and suppliers of abortion in the world as well as being one of the largest recipients of UNFPA funds, has revealed that it intends “to use the Convention to coerce governments into introducing the most liberal policies of abortion, sterilization and contraception for children of 10 years and upwards”. It obviously was designed to become the vehicle for the ideological and financial advancement of a totally unscrupulous and discredited body at the expense of the lives and health of mothers and their children.


There are many other areas of the Recommendations passed at the Conference which could bear careful scrutiny before being implemented by governments. It will take a much more critical analysis of what the UNFPA and other publicly funded bodies do with their funds before we can look forward to a future world conference which is likely to tackle the many and serious problems faced by our world and its people and which has something more constructive to offer than the negative if simple solution – the elimination of people.