Women Deliver hosted its third annual conference last month as part of its effort to achieve the targets set forth in the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5, and as in previous years, the speakers and events focused primarily on contraception and abortion.
Among the “development” community, any matter pertaining to women is quickly co-opted by population control and abortion advocates, and MDG 5 has been the rallying point for misguided policies that too often fail to meet the real needs of women in developing countries; this conference was no different.
Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), declared that “family planning is an essential human right,” and Melinda Gates blogged from the conference, “I’ve heard from so many [women and girls] about one particular issue—how contraceptives have changed their lives.”
Mrs. Gates has a long history of involvement with family planning and abortion advocates, and at last summer’s London Summit on Family Planning, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation set the “FP2020” goal of delivering contraceptives to 120 million women in the developing world by 2020. Subsequently, UNFPA and the International Planned Parenthood Federation announced a new partnership to further the attainment of that goal.
Controversy over abortion on the agenda preceded the conference once word got out that late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart and utilitarian philosopher Peter Singer (infamous for his advocacy of unrestricted abortion and his defense of infanticide) would be among the speakers, and it continued throughout the three-day event.
For example, in multiple sessions concerning the use of the drug misoprostol—which has been marketed as a possible treatment for post-partum hemorrhage as well as for inducing abortion—its advocates debated its efficacy and discussed tactics for its promotion in the developing world.
Meanwhile, although one might expect that an event titled “Women Deliver” would be more directly concerned with childbirth—after all, women deliver babies, and a discussion on maternal health presupposes pregnancy and childbirth—the conference largely relegated topics such as prenatal health and postpartum care to the sidelines.
Looking ahead, the Women Deliver attendees and their UNFPA allies are concerned with shaping the development agenda after the MDGs expire in 2015 and making sure that “sexual and reproductive health and rights” are embedded in whatever goals and programs succeed the MDGs. Women and girls in the developing world who are seeking genuine solutions to improve their lives—be it access to clean water, basic medical care, the rule of law, or protection of their natural human rights—best look elsewhere.