Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 11
No. 3
March, 2017
 
Pro-Life Actions
U.S. Stops Funding UNFPA
Long standing concerns regarding the enabling by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) of China's coercive population control program have led President Trump to announce via a State department memo and letter to U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker that U.S. funding to UNFPA will end.
 
In the letter, the State Department said it was dropping the funding because UNFPA "supports, or participates in the management of, a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization". Funds currently allocated to UNFPA will be transferred to the "Global Health Account" where it will be used for family planning, maternal health and non-abortive reproductive health activities. According to the previously announced expansion of the pro-life Mexico City Policy, these funds will not be allotted to any foreign non-governmental organization that performs or promotes abortion.
 
The decision is based on application of existing U.S. law, the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, which was enacted for the first time in 1985 and prohibits foreign aid to any organization that the administration determines is involved in coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization. The memo recognizes that while the China's one-child policy was 'modified' in 2015 to allow two children per married couple it statesthe finding that "The Chinese Government employs measures such as coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization to carry out its population- control policies."

The decision relied on information contained in the U.S. 2016 Human Rights Report for China which the memo states, "The Report notes that China's population-control policy relies on measures such as mandatory pregnancy examinations and coercive abortions and sterilizations."

UNFPA
responded to the not unexpected announcement by stating that it "regrets the decision by the United States" and charged that the "decision is based on the erroneous claim that UNFPA 'supports, or participates in the management of, a programme of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization' in China. UNFPA refutes this claim, as all of its work promotes the human rights of individuals and couples to make their own decisions, free of coercion or discrimination."

UNFPA is heavily invested in China; in its
2015 Country programme document for China, UNFPA lists a proposed $22 million in spending for programs including for "sexual and reproductive health" and "population dynamics". In the "Situation analysis" section, UNFPA acknowledges "An estimated 13 million abortions occur annually, about half of which are among youth" and "22 per cent of female youth reported having had sex, 21 per cent of whom had unplanned pregnancies, with 91 per cent ending in abortions."

UNFPA expresses no concern for the 13 million abortions that take place every year, 6.5 million of which involve young women, nor does it indicate any interest in learning why the abortion rate for young women is so high. One can only conjecture that it already knows the answer-pregnancy among unmarried young women violates China's birth policy leading to coerced and even forced abortion-an unrestrained and expansive human rights violation which UNFPA chooses to ignore.
The U.S. 2016 Human Rights Report for China helped in the defunding decision and provides details on the human rights violations affecting women in China every day.

Read more here .
MPs in Uganda Unite against Regional Abortion Bill
Over 30 legislators in Uganda united and organized the Parliamentary Forum on Ethics and Integrity in response to draft legislation tabled in the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) - an intergovernmental organization composed of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. The bill- Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Bill, 2017-sponsored by member Odette Nyiramilimo from Rwanda would set up a legal framework for matters relating to sexual and reproductive health. The draft bill states in Part III: Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Services, Article 15:(1): The Partner States shall safeguard and give effect to the reproductive rights of a woman by permitting the termination of pregnancy when in the opinion of a trained health professional, the pregnancy endangers the health or life of the woman.

The draft bill cites the regional Maputo Protocol which openly advances access to abortion despite the fact that East Africa Community members South Sudan and Burundi have not fully adopted the Protocol and both Uganda and Tanzania issued reservations on Article 14, access to abortion, upon adoption of the treaty.
 
The Parliamentary Forum on Ethics and Integrity is chaired by former Minister of Ethics and Integrity, James Nsaba Buturo who explained that the legislators in the forum oppose the EALA Bill and are calling upon the people of Uganda and East Africa, the Heads of State, Courts of Laws, and legislators in the East African region to "reject wholesomely the East African Community Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Bill (2017)".

The former Minister is reported to have said that the true intention of the bill is to secure the legalization of abortion in the East African region while the promoters claim that it is intended to prevent unwanted pregnancies, risky abortions and sexually transmitted infections such as HIV/AIDs. Buturo stated, "The bill in question has other dangerous outcomes; children and young people are not of age to be invited to engage in sex. The argument that everybody, including children, has a right to choose and consent to any method of birth control is totally disingenuous and against the very grain of our decency and values as Africans." The bill defines adolescents as between the ages of 10 and 19.

The legislation instructs Partner States to allow abortion under broad sweeping and subjective terms as it disregards sovereign constitutions and national laws and policies that protect unborn children and their mothers from the violence of abortion. It would place the determination of which abortions can be considered legal to a mere "trained health professional" which the bill defines as "any person or institution that has been authorized to deliver health care services".

Lawmakers in Uganda were prompted to act against EAC SRHR BILL 2017 when they learned details of the bill and heard testimony from pro-life advocates at public hearings, including from Fr. Jonathan Opio of Human Life International who charged, "This is an agenda by the Western elites pushing population control agenda through the EALA by using EALA as a conduit to mandate abortion and contraceptives to all."

Fr Opio continued, "As I see it, from the 'optics' point of view, how is EAC SRHR BILL perceived by local people other than the elite? The great weakness of this Bill is that it follows exactly the blueprint laid out by the United Nations and the rich Western population control organizations primarily located in New York City and London. In other words, it has no regard whatever for African culture, customs, beliefs or faith. As always, it is in no way an African document and has nothing of African values in it. It is a creature of the West, pure and simple."

A number of
MPs from the Forum expressed their concerns about the EALA bill. MP John Baptist Nambeshe stated, "I am absolutely opposed to this Bill of abortion. I made an oath to protect the constitution which guarantees the right to life including the right of the voiceless unborn babies. Abortion is an evil that must be fought by all of us."

MP Francis Mwijukye Mwijukye also expressed his opposition, "Obviously as a Catholic I am against the Bill; even as an activist for justice.  Our motto is For God and My country. Abortion is not of God. Whoever supports abortion is disobedient to God."

In a strongly worded caution to members of the EALA, MP Ashraf Olega said, "I'm a Muslim and the Quran definitely states that terminating the life of a human being is the worst thing and whoever does it will go to hell. All Members of Parliament who are God-fearing should oppose the law.

Public hearings on the draft were held in all Partner States except South Sudan. A petition opposing the bill is underway to the chairman and members of the EALA Committee on Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution, the committee overseeing the draft, with support from thousands. View and sign the petition here.

The EALA session ends in June.
Romania and Moldova: Pro-Lifers March for Life in Nearly 300 Towns
290 towns and cities across Romania and the Republic of Moldova celebrated the March for Life 2017 on March 25th with the theme- "Help the Mother and Child! They Depend on You". The March sought to raise awareness and facilitate debate on the need to support women in facing unexpected pregnancies. It ends the 'Pro-Life Month' (March) during which numerous pro-life events, books, music and social media campaigns highlighted the pro-life message. The annual event, in its 7th year in Romania and 3rd in Moldova, has grown steadily each year with more and more people participating. The six main Christian denominations issued statements supporting the event.
International Pressure for Abortion
IPPF Relocates Asia Pacific Regional Office to Thailand
International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) relocated three of its operations in Asia Pacific to Bangkok and combined with the Planned Parenthood Association of Thailand to form its Asia Pacific Hub,described as the "biggest sexual and reproductive health and rights organization in Asia Pacific".
 
According to IPPF, Bangkok allows "for regional humanitarian and development bodies and networks, location here will maximise opportunities for external collaboration and developing partnerships. It also provides IPPF with greater scope to explore collaboration with regional bodies and other international networks as well as with the Thai government."
 
At the Hub's opening, IPPF's director Tewodros Melesse is reported to have "denied that the relocation had anything to do with the more socially and politically conservative climates in Malaysia and India, where the federation is giving up its offices."
 
The Thai Planned Parenthood Association runs clinics in the country and provides abortion which is reported to be "rarely talked about in the open due to fear of a backlash in the socially conservative kingdom. Health officials are split between progressive and traditionalist camps, according to abortion rights advocates."
 
When questioned about how IPPF would work with officials and the 'ideological divide' Melesse said that he hopes the authorities will be more open once acceptance for abortion and other reproductive rights expands. He said, "When all these supports are combined, they will encourage the government to be proactive. In the meantime, we will lay down groundwork for the government to be comfortable." Currently, Thailand restricts abortion prohibiting it for socioeconomic grounds or on demand.

IPPF is the largest pro-abortion promoter and provider with 142 member associations and a presence in 170 countries which lost U.S. funding as a result of the Mexico City Policy.
Focus on the UN
Human Rights Committee Pressures on Abortion

During its latest review of country reports on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR), the Human Rights Committee (HRC) chastised Italy over conscientious objection to abortion and Bangladesh over its restrictions on abortion. In the case of Italy, the HRC expressed its "concern at reported difficulties in accessing legal abortions owing to the high number of physicians who refuse to perform abortions for reasons of conscience and their manner of distribution across the country" and instructed the Italian government to "take measures necessary to guarantee unimpeded and timely access to legal abortion services in its territory, including by establishing an effective referral system for women seeking legal abortion services."

IPPF European Network applauded the comments stating, "The United Nations Human Rights Committee has expressed serious concerns about the difficulties women face across Italy in accessing legal abortion services as a result of the Italian authorities' failures to address serious gaps in services due to the high number of health care professionals denying care across the country."

In the case of Bangladesh-which prohibits abortion except for a life of the mother exception but allows so-called "menstrual regulation"- the HRC stated that "while the State party allows for 'menstrual regulation,' the procedure is not widely available and women requesting the procedure reportedly are often refused."
Bangladesh was instructed to change its pro-life law to allow "additional exceptions to the legal ban on abortion, including in cases of rape, incest, fatal foetal impairment, and for therapeutic reasons" and to ensure that women have access to "medical services" and are not blocked by "legal obstacles", including criminal penalties for abortion. The HRC also instructed Bangladesh to "Increase education and awareness-raising programmes on the importance of using contraceptives and on sexual and reproductive health rights."

While the CCPR is silent on abortion it states in Article 6: 1. Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life. It protects the unborn child's life in the case of the death penalty in Article 6: 5. Sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age and shall not be carried out on pregnant women.

The concluding comments of the treaty body are yet another example of the pro-abortion activism by committee members. Related documents can be found on the HRC session website.
Legislative News
US: Senate Votes to Defund Planned Parenthood
With Vice President Pence casting the tiebreaking vote, the Senate passed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. The measure permits states to withhold Title X "family planning" funding from Planned Parenthood because of their abortion services. The legislation reverses an Obama initiative that forbade states from withholding funds from the abortion provider on that basis. Under the new measure, states will be free to provide funding to other medical facilities that provide actual health care. Planned Parenthood reports reveal it performed 323,999 abortions from 2014-2015 and received over $550 million in federal, state and local government funds.
Maureen Ferguson, a senior policy advisor with The Catholic Association, called the vote "a victory for all Americans who don't want to see their tax dollars subsidizing the abortion industry and its ghoulish trafficking in aborted baby's organs." The joint resolution, which has already passed the House, goes to President Trump's desk for a signature.
UK: Parliament Votes to Decriminalize Abortion
The UK House of Commons approved on first reading a bill to decriminalize abortion in England and Wales by removing all requirements for abortion. While in practice abortion is available on demand in the UK, the Abortion Act of 1967 requires they are limited to 24 weeks gestation and require the approval of two doctors, unless the unborn baby is disabled or the mother's life is at risk. The Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill would remove those barriers. Pro-life groups oppose the bill and point out that the bill would lead to increased abortions. MP Maria Caulfield told legislators the bill could lead to abortions occurring at later dates and urged members to protect "the rights of the unborn child". The legislation passed its First Reading by a vote of 172 to 142 and is expected to soon proceed to a Second Reading.
Ireland: Parliament Defeats Bill Reducing Penalty for Abortion
Ireland's parliament rejected a bill to reduce the penalty for abortion to 1 euro from the current penalty of up to 14 years in prison. The private member's bill failed by an overwhelming vote of 81-26, with 22 TDs abstaining. It is the latest in a series of legislative attempts to legalize abortion in Ireland, which protects the right to life in the 8th amendment of the constitution. The Irish Citizens' Assembly, which is currently hearing testimonies from both pro-life and pro-abortion advocacy groups, is expected to vote next month on recommendations to the legislature on whether to keep, repeal or amend the 8th amendment.
AU: Pro-Life Laws Stand in Queensland Parliament
Two pro-abortion bills have been pulled in the Queensland Parliament in Australia's first legislative pro-life victory. The legislation, sponsored by MP Rob Pyne, would decriminalize abortion, create "protected area" zones around abortion clinics to prevent peaceful protests and would require medical personnel to perform "emergency abortions" despite conscientious objection. The legislation was withdrawn the day before they were to be voted on after it was clear they would be defeated. "The bills faced certain defeat in Parliament because they were so flawed," said pro-life lobby group Cherish Life president Julie Borger. "The announcement by the Labor government that Parliament will not consider abortion legislation again in this term of parliament is a great victory for life and decency."
AU: Northern Territory Legalizes Abortion
Australia's Northern Territory Parliament has passed legislation to legalize and increase access to abortion drugs. The new law permits abortions and abortion drugs like RU486 to be available "out of hospital settings", requires doctors refer for abortion services if they conscientiously object, creates bubble zones around abortion clinics prohibiting peaceful protests, and removes abortion from the criminal code. The NSW and Queensland now remain the only territories protecting the right to life.
USA: Arkansas Legislature Passes Ban on Sex-Selection Abortion
The Arkansas House approved a bill to ban sex-selection abortions. The bill, passed by a vote of 57-9, would require doctors inform patients that abortion on the grounds of the unborn baby's gender are illegal. The bill imposes fines on doctors who perform abortions on the basis of the baby's sex. Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Dakota also have laws banning sex-selection abortion.
Judicial News
Uruguay: Judge Rules Father Can Stop Abortion
A judge in Uruguay ruled that a father could prevent the abortion of his baby. The mother, who is not in a relationship with the father, was seeking an abortion at 10 weeks, permissible in Uruguay since abortion was legalized for the first trimester in 2012. The father of the unborn child filed the case to stop the abortion, arguing he would raise and support the child himself. Judge Pura Book issued a protective order to prevent the abortion and referred the case of the Constitutional Court. In the meantime, the mother says she had a miscarriage and lost the baby. Pro- abortion efforts are now focused on removing Judge Book and pro-life advocates are rallying to support her.
Croatia: Court Rules to Keep Abortion Legal in 26 Year Old Case
Croatia's Constitutional Court has  ruled abortion should remain legal on a case filed 26 years ago. The suit arguing the country's 1979 abortion law be declared unconstitutional was filed in 1991 by the Croatian Movement for Life and Family. The court ruled against the request by a vote of 12-1. The president of the Court, Miroslav Separovic, said the matter was up to the legislature. "Parliament has been instructed to adopt a new law on abortion in the next two years and cannot ban pregnancy termination (abortion)," he said.

 
 
Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues
Advancing global respect and dignity for life through law and policy.

US: Doctors Operate on Unborn Baby's Heart At 21 Weeks

 

Doctors in Pennsylvania have
performed an historic surgery on a baby's heart, while he was still in the womb. The risky surgery was performed to remove a tumor from baby Juan's tiny heart at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the only hospital to have performed this rare surgery, once before. The operation, at 21 weeks gestation, successfully removed a mass that was three times the size of the baby's heart, which was the size of a peanut, and saved the baby's life. Baby Juan was born at 31 weeks and, now a healthy 3 months old, lives with his family in Uruguay.