Before leaving for the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development I had fears of being one of only a handful of pro-lifers in attendance. However, it soon became apparent there were many pro-life people there among the Non Government Organization (NGOs) representatives, the government delegates and even the press. I met at least 100 pro-lifers, many of whom met every evening to plan strategy for the next day.
This conference had been billed as the largest Planned Parenthood gathering in the history of the world. Thirty-seven conference staff and 174 delegates from 91 different nations were employed by the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Their aim was to force nations to spend $20 billion over the next few years on contraceptives and abortion services that IPPF would provide. This they called foreign aid.
Fred Sai, the Chairman of the Main Committee, is also President of IPPF. Nafis Sadik the General Secretary of the ICPD and Executive Director of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities is also a former President of IPPF. What a coincidence!
Besides covering the conference for the Interim, my main assignment was to lobby the official government delegates at the ICPD Conference as they approached the room where the Main Committee was meeting. Since I speak French, I concentrated on delegates from Africa, but I distributed literature in English, French, and Spanish to many other delegates. The delegates were easy to detect since they wore a specific type of badge. I simply introduced myself and asked to speak to them about my concerns with certain aspects of the final conference Document concentrating on the following:
- The document hides abortion in vague language and attempts to create a universal right to abortion.
- Imaginary statistics of hundreds of thousands of women dying from “unsafe abortions” are cited to support the claim that abortion must be available and safe. But where were the death certificates of all these women?
- Family rights are violated. Adolescents are targeted for a massive distribution of contraceptive and abortion services without parental knowledge or consent. The Document recognizes the right of anyone to be sexually active, thus promoting promiscuity. The Document could be interpreted as sanctioning homosexuality.
- The document would threaten the sovereignty of nations by overriding their wishes, values and cultures.
- There is virtually nothing in the Document about developing the Third world. “If they were interested in developing your country why are they earmarking $17-20 billion for the distribution of sterilization and abortion services? How does that profit your country? It only profits those who are controlling and manipulating this conference: UNFPA, IPPF, and the women’s Caucus, a small group of American radical feminists.”
- Pharmaceutical companies have billions of dollars to gain from the implementation of this Document in the sale of condoms and chemical contraceptives. The same companies manufacture the remedies that treat the diseases that inevitably follow – such as STDs, infertility and the complications from abortion.
- If education and development is so important why is it that only contraceptives and “reproductive choice” are part of contracts with the World Bank?
Impact of Lobbying
There is no doubt that our lobbying had a great impact. For the first week of the conference the only subject of discussion was abortion. Feedback from several delegations confirmed that our lobbying was having a positive effect and frustrating the efforts of the pro-abortion lobby. This was also confirmed by a peculiar incident.
One man who wore a UN badge had passed me many times, never smiling. His very expensive made him look like some highly placed UN official. After three days of giving out pro-life literature this man approached me with a look of hatred in his eyes, grabbed one of my papers and said as he quickly passed: “Pregnancy destroys women’s lives.”
I wondered what could cause him to utter such a despicable statement. I figured he must be on the staff of IPPF or UNFPA and that his job was on the line if this program did not get accepted. His statement revealed a complete distortion of the role of women, the purpose of life and how we were made by God. It pointed out the kind of evil we were fighting and he need to pray very hard.
The opportunity we had to spread the facts on pre-natal life, the effects of contraception and abortion on society and the benefits of Natural Family Planning is inestimable. From this point of view the conference was a tremendous success and I am certain the seed of evangelization sown in Cairo will bear abundant fruit in the future.
Meaning of Conference
Unlike UN Treaties and Conventions, the ICPD and its final Document have no legal force. Technically speaking, nations may or may not implement the recommendations of the final Document. Why then gather delegates from 183 countries at such expense if they can simply disregard the findings?
One clue may be found in U.S. Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs and head of the U.S. delegation Tim Wirth’s answer to a reporter who asked the practical implications of the Document. He said that the nations will be held accountable for what is in the UN Document. Who will hold them accountable? And how?
On May 11, 1993, in a formal speech given specifically to explain the U.S. Administration’s population-control policy, the same Timothy Wirth said, “A government which is violating basic human rights should not hide behind the defense of sovereignty. Difficult as it is, we must also discuss thoroughly the issue of abortion…Our position id to support reproductive choice, including access to safe abortion.”
Economic coercion is perhaps the most effective means of enforcing compliance to the population control policies of the Cairo Document. For example, many African delegates were aware of the motives behind the conference but their countries are so poor that they feel compelled to go along with it for fear of losing the aid that does come their way. This aid comes with strings attached. They must agree to implement population control policies through the promotion of contraceptives, sterilization and abortion or they are refused aid by organizations such as the World Bank.
The Document can also be implemented through the use of surrogates. The U.S., for example, funds IPPF, a longtime centre for efforts to repeal protective abortion laws.
It does so to avoid direct blame for the contraceptive imperialism it funds and promotes.