The American State Department is aggressively working with the United Nations towards a goal of zero population growth and greater access to abortion in developing countries.

The State Department, with President Clinton’s blessing, has endorsed a draft document which pushed contraception, sterilization and abortion as means of achieving their goal.  The U.S. and the UN will use the September International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), to be held in Cairo, to press their position.  This stance has created great controversy not only outside the U.S. but also among congressmen.

On March 16, International Right to Life obtained a confidential “action cable” issued from the U.S. State Department outlining its priorities for the ICPD.  The cable was sent to all diplomatic and consular posts to outline the approach the U.S. and the UN would be taking in terms of population control at the upcoming conference.

Any doubt about this approach was dismissed by the telegram.  Item 17 of the cable reads: “The United States believes that access to safe, legal and voluntary abortion is a fundamental right of all women…The United States will be working for stronger language on the importance of access to abortion services.”  The document also pushed for further proliferation of contraceptives and sterilization services.

The intent of the cable and the UN resolutions were later stated to Vatican officials who expressed immediate alarm.  Pope John Paul II voiced these concerns in a meeting with Nafis Sadik, executive director of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities and an organizer of the ICPD and to Raymond Flynn, U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican.

The Pope severely criticized the document saying its proposals were of “grave concern.”  He pointed out that population policies must be formed by the family itself and not by foreign powers.  He also condemned the report by saying that “no goal or policy will bring positive results for people if it does not respect the unique dignity and objective needs of those same people.”

Criticism also came from within the U.S., by several congressmen who called the Clinton endorsement of the UN draft document “an aggressive assault on pro-life laws in dozens of developing countries.”

In a letter to Secretary of State Warren Christopher, two senior members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Cong. Christopher Smith (R., N.J.) and Cong. Henry Hyde (R., Ill.), pointed out that he draft language of the resolution “urges governments, intergovernmental bodies, and non-governmental organizations to adopt and implement population and development policies that…protect women’s reproductive rights.”

The two congressmen went on to say that “the intention of this resolution is to cast any limits on the practice of abortion – anywhere in the world – as de facto sex discrimination.”

In a strongly worded letter, reported in the American Catholic newspaper The Wanderer, Smith and Hyde went after top-ranking Clinton advisors, especially Department Counselor Timothy Wirth, who have consistently urged the Clinton administration to take on a world-wide pro-abortion policy.  On May 11, 1993, Wirth gave a speech to the United Nations saying that the U.S. mandate at the upcoming Cairo International Conference on Population and Development will be to “support reproductive choice, including access to safe abortion.”

Another group which is reported to hold influence over Clinton’s foreign policy decisions is Zero Population Growth which lobbied the government to withhold assistance to Poland because of the Solidarity government’s support for a national pro-life law.

Smith and Hyde felt compelled to write the letter to illustrate the widening gap between the opinion of Clinton’s advisors and that of elected law-makers.  Both Smith and Hyde say that Congress and Senate sentiment bear this out.  Congress recently voted to retain most provisions in the Hyde Amendment, which, among other things, places restrictions on abortion funding, and also killed the Freedom of Choice Act, an abortion on demand bill.

In a follow-up statement Cong. Smith said, “This obsession, on the part of the Clinton administration, with the promotion of abortion as a means of population control is very disturbing.  If the President and his subordinates continue down this path, his legacy will be that of the ‘Abortion President.’”