Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 17
No. 4
April, 2023
International Pressure for Abortion

WHO Director General Opposes Pro-life Laws and Judicial Rulings

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO)—the UN agency that oversees international public health— recently doubled down on his and WHO's support for abortion. During a press conference shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court extended temporary access to the abortion drug mifepristone, he expressed opposition to the actions by courts and elected representatives to protect unborn children from abortion.
Tedros, speaking for WHO, completely ignored the sovereign right of countries to decide their own policy on abortion stating, “WHO is concerned that the right of women to access safe abortion services, including through use of medical abortion medicines, are being limited by legislators and or courts. To be clear on WHO’s position, women should always have the right to choose when it comes to their bodies and their health.”
Tedros also opened the first Civil Society Dialogue on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) hosted by WHO’s IBP Network in partnership with IPPF. The session was to discuss how “WHO and CSOs can collaborate to advance SRHR priorities around the world.”
One of the topics was ensuring that sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), including abortion, is included as part of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and primary health care (PHC) at community levels. It was acknowledged that “SRHR is still a sensitive topic in many communities so ensuring it is seen as part of PHC and UHC as well as engaging multiple stakeholders like religious leaders, women’s groups, and feminist movements is critical.”
The need for activism to bring change to abortion laws was also discussed. Susana Chavez, Executive Director PromSex Peru described how WHO’s ‘scientific authority’ was instrumental in Peru “where years of activism along with the WHO Safe Abortion Guidelines helped position safer SRHR services, including access to safe abortion services.” She said, “We can’t wait for change to come from governments alone. We believe WHO can open up and create spaces for dialogue with Ministers and decision makers.”
The event gathered over 600 participants from civil society organizations (CSOs) from 105 countries who proposed additional ways for WHO to engage with non-governmental organizations working in SRHR.
Tedros affirmed the importance of civil society organizations saying, “We look to CSOs to help hold WHO's global, regional, and country offices accountable to deliver on SRH for everyone everywhere.” He recognized that “there are political sensitives around some SRHR topics with certain member states” but emphasized that “WHO will continue to push forward.”

OHCHR and UNAIDS Call for Decriminalization of Abortion The International

Committee of Jurists (ICJ) along with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UNAIDS officially launched a new set of contrived legal principles which presents the view that “criminal proscription of certain conduct is not in conformity with general principles of criminal law and international human rights law,” including laws criminalizing abortion.
“The 8 March Principles for a Human Rights-Based Approach to Criminal Law Proscribing Conduct Associated with Sex, Reproduction, Drug Use, HIV, Homelessness and Poverty” is intended “to guide the application of international human rights law to criminal law” and is intended for legislators, policymakers, prosecutors, government officials, civil society organizations and others who in the words of the author “may play a critical role in mitigating the detrimental human rights impact of misapplied criminal laws.”
Principle 15-Abortion, of the 21 Principles, calls for the complete decriminalization of abortion stating, “Criminal law may not proscribe abortion. Abortion must be taken entirely out of the purview of the criminal law, including for having, aiding, assisting with, or providing an abortion, or abortion-related medication or services, or providing evidencebased abortion-related information. No other criminal offence, such as murder, manslaughter or any other form of unlawful homicide, may proscribe or be applied to having, aiding, assisting with, or providing an abortion, or abortion-related medication or services, or providing evidence-based abortion-related information.”
UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director for the Policy, Advocacy and Knowledge Branch, Christine Stegling said, “I welcome the fact that these principles are being launched on International Women’s Day (IWD), in recognition of the detrimental effects criminal law can, and too often does have on women in all their diversity.”
“We will not end AIDS as a public health threat as long as these pernicious laws remain,” she added. “These principles will be of great use to us and our partners in our endeavors.”
Read more here.

IPPF Seeks to Prevent Pregnancy Care Centers from Saving Lives

The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) has a new campaign that seeks to prevent women with an unexpected pregnancy from receiving life-affirming assistance and instead seeks the demise of children in abortion. The campaign is called How to tell if you are being misled on abortion and targets Pregnancy Care Centers which it claims mask “their anti-abortion and religious agendas for people seeking abortion care.”
IPPF states that internationally the centers are often “funded by extreme anti-abortion groups in the United States and elsewhere” and that the centers “aim to stop people from choosing to have an abortion.” IPPF then offers advice on how to avoid the centers, preventing women who follow their advice from having any real choice when it comes to saving the life of their baby.
It objects to a woman seeing an image of her baby through ultrasound or hearing the baby’s heartbeat. It objects to the Abortion Pill Rescue Network which receives more than 150 calls a month from women who have changed their minds after taking abortion-inducing drugs and seek help in reversing the effects of the drugs. Again, in opposition to any suggestion of choice, IPPF falsely claims that the abortion pill reversal is “unethical and unproven treatment” and “could potentially be dangerous” while promoting truly dangerous at-home-use of abortion drugs.
IPPF disputes that women can experience regret over abortion and states that post-abortion syndrome is as a ‘made up condition’. It objects to any information of options to abortion including for adoption and it objects to informed consent so a woman can learn the truth about the development of her unborn child and about the abortion procedure.
IPPF, in opposition to women making informed decisions, objects to information which explains the risks from abortion, including from abortion pills. It falsely states, “Abortion is a very safe procedure when carried out by a trained health worker or when self-managed using quality medical abortion pills. Serious complications and death from safe abortion are extremely rare.”
Counter to any semblance of choice, IPPF even objects to use of the words “baby” or “child” and “mother” or “parent” claiming such words are “a psychological tactic used to manipulate the pregnant person and impose maternal feelings to encourage them to carry the pregnancy to term.”

IPPF Expanding Its Work in Africa

IPPF Africa region has announced an expansion as it seeks to hire 17 individuals for positions in Kenya and Côte d'Ivoire as it begins to implement 2023-2028 Strategy. IPPF Africa, headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, explains that “the overarching goal of IPPF Africa Region (IPPFAR) is to increase access to SRHR services to the most vulnerable youth, men, and women in sub-Saharan Africa. To reach this goal, IPPFAR works with local civil-society organizations, governments, the African Union (AU), regional economic commissions (RECs), the United Nations, among others, to expand political and financial commitments to SRHR in Africa.” 
It states that in November 2022, all IPPF Members Associations adopted a new Strategy for the Federation: Come Together – Strategy 2028 which commits IPPF to “shaping laws, policies and norms through feminist action and international solidarity; and to nurturing the federation, addressing shortcomings and adding new impetus for real and lasting impact.”
“At each step, we will defend, protect, and celebrate safety, pleasure and wellbeing in sex and reproduction. At every turn, we will denounce powers and authorities who, through policy, practice, and law, undermine dignity and human rights in those intimate realms.”
IPPF has committed to work to overturn pro-life laws claiming that as a result of its work by 2028 “more countries will have liberalised abortion care and eliminated barriers to implementation.
Focus on the U.S.

Legal Challenge to Abortion Pill Continues

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has allowed sale of the abortion drug mifepristone—which starves an unborn child to death— to continue nationwide as a legal challenge is heard after Northern Texas District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk called for sale of the drug to be halted nationwide pending review of the FDA approval process which ignored established regulations. The appeal to the SCOTUS was made by the Biden administration and Danco, the maker of the abortion pill. A District Judge in Spokane Washington ruled in another case that mifepristone should remain on the market in 15 states plus the District of Columbia.
The SCOTUS vote was 7-2, with Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissenting. Justice Alito in his dissent called out the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the practice of “evading both necessary agency procedures and judicial review” noting that the FDA “has previously invoked enforcement discretion to permit the distribution of mifepristone in a way that the regulations then in force prohibited”.
Alito also expressed doubt that the Biden administration would obey the court’s ruling stating that “the Government has not dispelled legitimate doubts that it would even obey an unfavorable order in these cases, much less that it would choose to take enforcement actions to which it has strong objections.”
Both President Biden and Vice-president Harris welcomed the SCOTUS ruling allowing broad access to the abortion pill to continue while the case is heard and called for federal legislation to codify Roe v. Wade. Biden praised the stay and used the occasion to call for voters to “elect a Congress who will pass a law restoring the protections of Roe v Wade” while calling the Texas case an example of “politically-driven attacks on women’s health”.
In response to the SCOTUS decision, the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, said, “The interim order by the Supreme Court is a tremendous disappointment, both for the loss of innocent preborn life from chemical abortion, and for the danger that chemical abortion poses to women. It is wrong to allow the FDA’s greatly diminished health and safety standards for mifepristone to remain in place.”
U.S. Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, denounced what he called the FDA’s “illegal approval process” for mifepristone described as being “created to starve unborn babies to death — that’s how it works — and poses significant risks to the mother’s health”.
The congressman expressed support for the physicians of the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine who brought the case stating, “Since the FDA failed to uphold its duty, the group of highly ethical doctors in this case have been relentlessly pursuing the truth in their efforts to hold the FDA accountable and I am grateful for their tenacity over the past 20 years.”
“After trying to hold the FDA accountable for more than two decades, these doctors are finally getting their day in court and the safety of women and girls is finally taking priority. We will continue to support these life-affirming doctors as this case moves forward to address the merits — with arguments scheduled in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on May 17th,” he declared.
Read more here

Two More Governors Sign Pro-Life Bills

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation banning abortion on babies with beating hearts. The Heartbeat Protection Act, SB 300, would ban most abortions at the point a heartbeat is detectable, around six weeks of pregnancy. The bill provides $25 million for Florida pregnancy centers, serving over 76,000 women, men, and children every year.
The bill also requires abortions pills are distributed by a doctor in office.
We are proud to support life and family in the state of Florida,” stated Gov DeSantis. “I applaud the Legislature for passing the Heartbeat Protection Act that expands pro-life protections and provides additional resources for young mothers and families.”
Similarly, North Dakota Governor Gov. Doug Burgum signed into law legislation prohibiting abortions after six weeks gestation. The bill passed the House by a vote of 76-14 and the Senate by 42-5. “This bill clarifies and refines existing state law … and reaffirms North Dakota as a pro-life state,” said Gov Burgum in a statement.
According to LifeNews, North Dakota became the 15th state in the United States to officially legally protect babies from abortions. Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia have banned abortions and have varying exceptions; Georgia has a 6-week ban in place protecting babies after their heartbeat is detectable; and abortions are banned in Wisconsin as the legislature and governor battle over the future of the pre-Roe law. Every state allows care for miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy and has an exception to protect the life of the mother.

Biden Administration Creating Abortion Hotline

The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) of the Biden administration is creating a national hotline to provide abortion referrals. HHS’s Office of Population Affairs issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity for the creation of a hotline that will “offer pregnant clients the opportunity to be provided information and counseling” on prenatal care, infant care, foster care or adoption, and abortion. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra explained the new program would “establish a safe and secure national hotline to provide referral services for women in need of accurate information about their legal reproductive health care options.” The hotline is part of the agency’s Title X program, so only organizations already receiving Title X funds can apply. 

Senate Approves Federal Funding for Military Abortions

The U.S. Senate has voted to use taxpayer dollars to fund abortions for the military. The lawmakers rejected legislation that would have blocked the Department of Veterans Affairs from paying for abortions, as had been the law since 1992 until this past September when the Biden Administration issued a new rule permitting it. The new rule finances travel costs and paid time off for service members to have abortions.
Republican Senators argued that the rule violates Title 10 Section 1093 of the U.S. Code, which states that funds available to the Department of Defense may not be used to perform abortions except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or in a case in which the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.
“Using our VA medical facilities to provide taxpayer-funded abortions is illegal and wrong,” said bill sponsor Senator Tommy Tuberville. “The VA’s new policy is a blatant violation of federal law. It forces taxpayers to fund abortions at VA facilities. And it provides limited conscience protections for doctors and nurses with religious objections to performing abortions.”

U.S. bishops condemned the vote. A joint letter from Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities states, “It is inhumane to provide fully taxpayer-funded abortion (which itself can increase mental health risks) as a so-called solution to pregnancy, instead of resources needed to welcome a child and flourish as a family. We continue to urge Congress to prevent implementation of this harmful policy, and to provide instead real support for our military veterans and their loved ones.”
Defending Life

Mexico: Thousands Urge Congress to Reject Euthanasia

Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies has received a petition with thousands of signatures urging the lawmakers to oppose euthanasia. Actívate, the group that organized and presented the petition, said that "euthanasia is a form of assisted death that has no place in a society that values life and human dignity." Cecilia Urrea, campaign coordinator of Actívate, said they went to the congress “to tell the legislators that Mexican citizens do not want to accept the initiative, the death project, called euthanasia. What citizens seek and propose is that palliative care be reinforced." 
Legislative News

France: Citizens’ Convention Takes Step Toward Legalizing Euthanasia

A citizens’ convention has voted for “active assistance in dying” in the form of euthanasia or assisted suicide. The citizens’ group of 184 randomly selected participants presented its report to the Élysée Palace and were received by President Emmanuel Macron. The president is not bound to the convention’s findings but emphasized its recommendations are taken into consideration. The next step is a vote on the law which faces a strong divide between Left and Centre factions supporting it and Right opposing. The Order of Physicians also issued a strong objection, saying it was “unfavourable” for doctors to participate in “a process that would lead to euthanasia.” President Macron indicated there would be a vote by the end of this summer.  
Executive News

Portugal: President Again Vetoes Bill to Legalize Euthanasia

Portugal’s President President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has again vetoed a bill to legalize euthanasia. The parliament passed another bill to legalize euthanasia after the previous three attempts were either blocked by the court or President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. The latest version changed some language that was previously determined by the court to be too vague, which could lead to “too many interpretations.” Portugal’s Catholic bishops have supported de Sousa’s previous veto of the bill: “Any legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide is always contrary to the affirmation of the dignity of the human person and to the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic.” 

Japan: Panel Approves Abortion Drug

A Japanese health ministry panel has approved the abortion pill. The panel’s decision is for Mefeego Pack, a combination of mifepristone and misoprostol, distributed by British manufacturer Linepharma. Abortion advocates are celebrating the move, claiming Japan is behind other countries in not allowing drug-induced abortion. They also want a revision to Japan’s abortion law, which requires spousal consent. The final decision is still to be determined by the health minister.

AU: Australian Capital Territory Now Paying for Abortions

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is the first Australian territory to offer free abortions. ACT’s healthcare program now covers both medical and surgical abortions up to 16 weeks pregnancy. The program applies to all citizens and does not require a Medicare card. MSI Australia, the largest abortion and birth control provider on the continent, has partnered with ACT to provide the abortion services. MSI has now called for the rest of Australia to follow ACT and offer government subsidized abortions. MSI was formerly known as Marie Stopes International.

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