The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) has just released its annual performance report for 2007-2008 and boasts of pushing its abortion agenda among its member associations in traditionally pro-life countries throughout Africa, Latin America and the Islamic world.

The IPPF asserts that “access to safe legal abortion is a public health and human rights imperative” and that the organization’s goal is to achieve “a universal recognition of a woman’s ‘right to choose’ and have access to safe abortion and a reduction in the incidence of unsafe abortion.”

Advocacy trumps accuracy in a number of places in the report. For example, IPPF director-general Gill Greer claims that a new target under the Millennium Development Goal on maternal health for “universal access to sexual and reproductive health by 2015” was agreed to by the UN General Assembly in 2006.

This is false, as the United States and other delegations have pointed out.

The report highlights the work of the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (IPPA), an IPPF member association, and its work in the country to combat “opposition from religious groups” that “severely hamper service provision.”

The IPPA has included abortion as one of its priority areas and works on the ground to provide contraceptives, “safe abortion” and challenge Indonesian Decree no. 23/1992 that states abortion is only permissible if it is proven necessary to save the life of the mother.

The report includes a story of an Indonesian woman seeking to terminate her pregnancy after attempting self-abortion using herbs and misoprostol.This raises questions about the IPPA’s work in providing abortions in countries where it is restricted.

The report only says that after being referred to that IPPA, her pregnancy was terminated, but does not state whether the IPPA committed the abortion or whether or not the abortion was necessary to save the life of the mother ? the only instance where abortion is permitted in Indonesia. This leaves unanswered the question of whether the IPPA is facilitating illegal activity.

The IPPF acknowledges the controversy surrounding its “sexual and reproductive health and rights” agenda and thus makes advocacy one of its top priorities. The primary advocacy accomplishment in the IPPF report is the organization’s work in drafting, promoting and implementing the African Union’s Maputo Plan of Action, a non-binding three-year action plan that explicitly contains abortion targets and indicators that remain hotly contested among African nations.

The IPPF and the UN Population Fund have advocated for the development of national action plans to speed up the implementation of the Maputo Plan of Action throughout the African continent. The performance report lists a series of meetings that the IPPF has organized and initiated with government officials, civil society, regional economic communities and even the media to push the action plan.

The report concludes with a wide range of performance indicators, such as advocacy activities, the number of abortion-related services, the number of contraceptive services and types of contraception provided by the IPPF and its member associations.

Business is booming for the IPPF: in 2007, the organization reported a 50 per cent increase from the previous year in the total number of abortion-related services provided by member associations globally.

Samantha Singson is director of government relations at the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared as that organization’s Friday Fax on Nov. 27, 2008 and is reprinted with permission.