Voices Online Edition
Vol. XVII: No. 1
Stop Funding the UNFPA - by Representative Mike Pence
Holy See to UN: Religious Freedom Central to Human Rights
"Gender mainstreaming" expert named director of feminist agency at UN - [C-fam report]
Gallup: No change in US abortion attitudes
Jesuit College in Britain hires witch
Stop Funding the UNFPA...
by Representative Mike Pence
Editor's Note: The Population Research Institute [PRI] Weekly Briefing reported on the growing opposition to US funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in its on-line edition January 25, 2002 (Vol. 4/ No. 3).
Pro-family Americans had been calling the White House (at 202-456-1414) in large numbers, responding to initiatives of several pro-life, pro-family organizations, including Catholic Family Institute and PRI. World magazine made this effort the cover story in the February 2 edition (see "Volunteer -- or else", by Mindy Belz at www.worldmag.com).
According to the PRI report, on January 24, Representataives Chris Smith (R-New Jersey), Joseph Pitts (R-Pennsylvania), Jo Ann Davis (R-Virginia), and other members of Congress held a press conference to oppose US funding of UNFPA on Capitol Hill. The congressmen were joined by Steven Mosher of PRI, human rights activist Harry Wu, leading China demographer John Aird, and other victims and witnesses of China's one-child policy. They called upon the Bush Administration to exercise its powers under the Kemp-Kasten Amendment to de-fund this UN population control organization because of its involvement in forced abortion and forced sterilizations in China.
While this press conference was in progress, Congressman Mike Pence (R-Indiana) was speaking on the floor of the House. His remarks, based in part on PRIs recent investigation in China and published in PRI's January 25 Weekly Briefing, follow.
A woman, four months pregnant, flees to her mother's village to avoid a forced abortion. Her brother, two sisters and three other relatives are arrested as bargaining chips to enforce China's brutal one-child-per-family policy. Three of her family's homes are destroyed. A second woman, 19 years of age, is told she is too young to have a baby. She doesn't meet the government's age requirements for pregnancy. Her friends, who accompanied her to the local clinic for her mandatory abortion, all nod vigorously when asked by an undercover investigator if the young lady would like to keep her baby. "But the law forbids it", they add.
Sound barbaric? Read on.
China's indefensible population control programs have been cited by Nafis Sadik, the former director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) as a "remarkable achievement", a program that could lend advice and expertise to other countries. However, the UNFPA claims to support only voluntary population activities. According to its website, it "carefully monitors its programs" to ensure that its activities conform to internationally accepted human rights standards. International agreements state that, "in no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning".
Although the UNFPA claims to fully subscribe to this standard by providing services that actually prevent abortion, it is clearly complicit in coercive family planning programs around the world.
For example, the UNFPA claims to work only in regions where the Chinese government has suspended its oppressive one-child policy and discontinued all coercive practices. However, testimony in a recent House International Relations Committee hearing revealed photographs of a UNFPA office located within the Chinese Office of Family Planning. The testimony also uncovered evidence that the UNFPA is active in Sihui, a county in China in which family planning is decidedly not voluntary. Officials there have imposed age requirements for pregnancy and require birth permits, mandatory sterilization and forced abortion. Those who refuse to comply with these standards face fines, imprisonment and often the destruction of their homes and property.
In Peru, a recently uncovered UNFPA report revealed perturbing information that the government continues to pursue aggressive population controls, despite promises to end these programs. According to the leaked UNFPA report, at times during the course of the study, situations arose when "the decision [to use certain contraceptive methods] was made external to the person". The report went further in saying, "There are notorious deficiencies among Reproductive Health/Family Planning providers regarding the respect of personal and reproductive rights; in this particular field, there is a clear contradiction between a formal acknowledgement of the persons rights and its practical denial".
Perhaps the UNFPA is not as innocent as it claims to be.
In El Salvador, the recent massive earthquakes were followed by reports of the UNFPA distributing "morning-after" pills and manual vacuum aspirator kits to victims of this natural disaster. At the height of the refugee crisis in Kosovo, the UNFPA shipped reproductive health supplies to at least 350,000 Albanian refugees. These reproductive "kits" included morning-after pills and manual vacuum aspirators for performing abortions in the field.
Coercion again rears its ugly head, this time in the form of crude abortion devices intended to be used on traumatized refugee women lacking access to the most basic of health supplies. In FY2001, the UNFPA received a total of $21.5 million from the U.S. government. The recently passed FY2002 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill allocated a total of $34 million to the UNFPA, a 58 percent increase in funding. The Mexico City policy prohibits federal funding of groups that perform or promote abortion services overseas. By continuing to fund the UNFPA's family planning efforts, the U.S. government is explicitly breaking established norms, and giving tacit support to some of the most abhorrent population control programs in existence.
Forced abortion is not a pro-life or pro-choice issue. There is no choice in China. Nor is there choice in countries that share China's aggressive population control agenda. For this reason, Americans on both sides of the abortion debate should urge President Bush to zero out all UNFPA funding in the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. American tax dollars must not be used to fund an organization that violates the basic human rights of women around the world.
Copyright © 2002 Population Research Institute. Reprinted with permission. (PRI hosts the Global Family Life Conference in Santa Clara, California, April 3-7, 2002. For information, contact http://www.pop.org/conferences.)
Holy See to UN: Religious Freedom Central to Human Rights
"Religion expresses the deepest aspirations of the human person. It shapes people's vision of the world and affects their relationships with others", Archbishop Renato Martino, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, said in his address to the United Nations 56th General Assembly on November 13. His address focused on religious freedom, in response to a report by the UN Human Rights Commission.
Archbishop Martino called attention to the existence of religious repression, and decried acts of violence in the name of religion. Following are excerpts from his address.
"The right to life and the right to freedom of religion or belief are the basic premises for human existence. The fact that there are still many places today where the right to gather for worship is either not recognized or is limited to the members of one religion alone, is a sad commentary on any claim to a more just, peaceful world where fundamental rights and freedoms are more widely promoted and respected. It is a direct and serious contradiction to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states clearly that 'everyone has the right to freedom of religion, including the freedom to change his or her religion or belief'. Despite the various national and international Declarations which proclaim the right to freedom of conscience and religion, there are still too many cases of religious repression".
"It is common knowledge that there are nations in which individuals, families and entire groups are still being discriminated against and marginalized because of their religious beliefs. This grave violation of one of the fundamental rights of the person is a source of enormous suffering for countless believers. 'Unhappily', as Pope John Paul II has said, 'the world has yet to learn how to live with diversity, as recent events throughout the world have painfully reminded us' (Pope John Paul II, Address to the United Nations, 1995, 9).
"Religious tolerance is based on the conviction that God wishes to be adored by people who are free. This is a conviction which requires us to respect and honor that inner sanctuary called the conscience, wherein each person meets God.
"When such respect and understanding is not realized, and when the divisions become manifest in civil strife and war, there is a need for mutual forgiveness. The commitment to religious tolerance and collaboration must be based upon the conversion of hearts and upon prayer, which will also lead to the necessary purification of past memories".
"Gender mainstreaming" expert named director of feminist agency at UN
The UN Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) has named Dr. Carolyn Hannan, a Swedish "gender mainstreaming" expert, as its new director.
Hannan recently completed a stint in the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues at the UN, where she was responsible for implementing "gender mainstreaming" throughout the UN system.
Largely unknown outside UN parlance, "gender mainstreaming" represents the latest and most sweeping account of radical feminist ideology. "Gender mainstreaming" is based upon the belief that sex distinctions have been created by male-dominated social hierarchies to perpetuate male power. *
According to the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues, gender is defined as "the social attributes and opportunities associated with being male and female and the relationships between women and men and girls and boys, as well as the relations between women and those between men. These attributes, opportunities and relationships are socially constructed and are learned through socialization processes. They are context/time-specific and changeable".
Since gender is a social construct, it can be altered. Gender mainstreaming is the process through which the UN hopes to eliminate all vestiges of gender distinctions. The UN defines gender mainstreaming as "a strategy for making women's as well as men's concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programs in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality".
So in all facets of UN activities -- from budgeting to peacekeeping -- gender inequality is to be eliminated by ensuring that women's perspectives predominate.
A particularly troubling gender distinction for DAW is motherhood, which Hannan termed "reproductive labor" in a speech she delivered two years ago. Hannan said we should consider "reproductive labor as a form of 'reproductive tax'. This 'tax' limits women's capabilities to engage in remunerative work in the market. Calls for greater sharing of reproductive roles by women and men and ensuring better balance of home and work responsibilities are important for economic development as well as for gender equality".
DAW operates as the lead UN agency for "gender mainstreaming". DAW organized and oversaw the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995), as well as Beijing +5. In both instances, members of pro-family NGOs charged that DAW attempted to minimize their influence. DAW also works with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which has demanded that some countries expand access to abortion.
One long-time pro-family observer at the UN says, "The Division for the Advancement of Women is emblematic of the systemic problem at the UN. It is part of the UN bureaucracy that is thoroughly leftist and completely outside the mainstream anywhere in the world. Agencies like DAW thoroughly discredit the work of the United Nations".
Copyright © Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-Fam); reprinted with permission. C-Fam address: 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 427 New York, New York 10017; Phone: (212) 754-5948; Fax: (212) 754-9291; E-mail: c-fam; Website: www.c-fam.org
* Editor's comment: "Gender-mainstreaming" may be a new term, but the idea that roles for the sexes are socially constructed is a very hoary one. The "nature/nurture" controversy has been with us for more than a century.
We confess we find it curious that while homosexual activists insist that their behavior reflects intrinsic and unchangeable characteristics with which one is born (and anyone who challenges this notion is a "homophobe"), feminist activists condemn the view that differences in social roles are in any way related to inborn traits. It is very difficult for us not to regard motherhood as an obvious "sex-linked" trait. We have observed, however, that the hostility of feminist activists to motherhood is superceded only by their hatred of fatherhood. - hhh
[Cf. Affirmation for Catholic Women, and WFF's Statement on CEDAW]
Abortion has been legalized in Afghanistan. Although abortion was completely prohibited under the former Taliban regime, the new interim government has permitted abortions up to the third month of pregnancy when the health of the mother is in danger. Abdullah Fahim of the Afghan health ministry said that, in order to have a legal abortion, a woman would have to obtain certificates from three doctors as well as permission from the health ministry. Those who provide or obtain illegal abortions face up to six months in prison.
[The Indian Express, January 16, 2002;
SAPA, via News 24, January 15, 2002]
Pro-abortion doctors in the Republic of Ireland have formed an organization to campaign for permissive abortion laws. Doctors for Choice, headed by Drs. Peadar O'Grady and Mary Favier, is the first such group in Ireland and aims to create a climate in which abortion becomes an integral and respected part of Irish medicine.
[Irish Independent, January 2002]
Source: on-line news bulletin of the British Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC). http://www.spuc.org/uk
Gallup: No change in US abortion attitudes
According to a Gallup survey conducted in early January, 48% of Americans are "satisfied" with the nation's abortion policies, and 43% are not. When asked in a separate question whether abortion policies should be changed or remain as they are, only 39% say they should stay the same. Another 39% would like to see abortion policies made more strict while 19% would prefer them to be less strict, the pollsters found.
The study showed that a majority of Americans (58%) are content keeping abortion legal, either saying they want abortion laws made less strict, or indicating satisfaction with keeping the laws as they are. About a third (30%) want to see abortion laws restricted. (The remaining 26% express a more ambiguous set of views.)
These attitudes are virtually unchanged from a year ago. In fact, Gallup trends on the subject of abortion show that attitudes on this subject rarely change.
The complete poll, along with charts, is accessible on Gallup web site: http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr020122.asp - broken link
Jesuit College in Britain hires witch
A woman who describes herself as a Wiccan High Priestess, has been hired as a "visiting tutor" at the venerable Heythrop College, a leading Jesuit university that is a center for training Catholic theologians and teachers.
Heythrop College, part of the University of London, has appointed Vivianne Crowley, who will lecture throughout the Lenten [Spring] term on the psychology of religion. Father John McDade, SJ, principal of Heythrop College, denied that Crowley would be promoting witchcraft.
Father McDade told the [London] Daily Telegraph: "She is not a member of the theology faculty at Heythrop College. She has been assisting us with some teaching in two areas of psychology of religion. She does not teach any other areas of study at Heythrop".
Source: Daily Telegraph
United Nations Commission on the Status of Women Beijing Platform for Action, March 2,2005
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