UNICEF Promotes Abortion in Latin America Print
By Austin Ruse   
Friday, 24 April 2009

A high-ranking UNICEF official has placed himself in the middle of an ongoing constitutional debate in the Dominican Republic. Put aside the question of how the constitutional deliberations of a sovereign state are in any way the business of a U.N. agency and look at the topic upon which they intervened: abortion.

The national legislature of the Dominican Republic is debating the content of the new federal constitution. The document, which has just been approved by one of the two houses of the Dominican legislature, states: “The right to life is inviolable from conception to death.” Nils Kastberg, a Swede who serves as UNICEF’s regional director for Latin America, couldn’t contain himself. He told Dominican legislators that they should not make abortion illegal rather they should make it legal so that women would not be forced into “unsafe procedures.” He went on to suggest that legislators would be “hypocrites” for ignoring the high teen pregnancy rate, which presumably UNICEF wants to solve by performing abortions on teens.

Why is an official of the U.N. agency responsible for the welfare of children speaking right out of the talking points of abortion advocates? Who would have thought that someone from UNICEF would be making such arguments?

This is not the first time that UNICEF has gotten involved in a national abortion debate and come down not, on the side not of protecting children, but of aborting them. In 2006 the national legislature of Nicaragua considered legislation making abortion for any reason illegal. Along with the radically pro-abortion U.N. Population Fund, UNICEF sent a letter to the head of the Nicaraguan National Assembly saying such an act would violate international agreements if it outlawed all abortions. Of course, that is a lie. There is no such international agreement, though abortion proponents think that if they say it often enough it will become true.

Keep in mind that UNICEF personnel get highly offended when anyone suggests that they are anything other than abortion neutral. But any rational person reading these accounts can only conclude that something terribly wrong has happened at this venerable institution.

UNICEF was founded after World War II to help with the terrible situation of sick, hungry, injured, and displaced children. Over the years, it saved millions of children from disease and starvation. UNICEF’s heyday was likely during the time of a man some at the Holy See consider a saint. Former UNICEF Executive Director Jim Grant created a global program for child survival, which literally saved millions from death. Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times says that Grant probably “saved more lives than were destroyed by Hitler, Mao, and Stalin combined” through programs of vaccination and diarrhea treatments. Grant died in office. Then came the feminists. President Clinton nominated former New York politician Carol Bellamy to head the agency where she served from 1995 to 2005, long enough to change UNICEF into an engine of women’s rights.

As radical feminist author Michelle Goldberg says in her new book The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World, “Reproductive rights are the place where many of the crucial forces shaping and changing women’s lives – religious authority, globalization, patriarchal tradition, demographics, American foreign policy, international law, environmentalism, and feminism – intersect.” Note that there is nothing in there about family and children. Someone at UNICEF could have written this.

The policy mantra of the post-Grant UNICEF feminists doesn’t speak much about child survival anymore. They talk about rights. And they say that the kiddies aren’t going to get theirs until women get them first. They also hold that women will never be free until they are given the human right sine qua non: abortion. According to this theory the women of Iran are marginally freer than the women of Ireland because Iran has marginally “better” abortion laws.

It is a certainty that no country will stand up to the abortion radicalism of UNICEF. It is after all a billion dollar agency with the power to reward and to punish. When Nicaragua stood up for the unborn child, big UNICEF donors like Holland and Canada withdrew millions in financial assistance.

It is unlikely that UNICEF will be harmed by its promotion of abortion. While the Vatican withdrew its annual and largely symbolic donation to UNICEF a decade ago, no other country has joined it. There seems to be no political will to get UNICEF back to its former core mission, the saving of children rather than the advancement of their mothers’ rights including their mothers’ “right” to abort them.

Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washington, D.C.-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy.

(c) 2009 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info at thecatholicthing dot org

The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.


Other Articles By This Author