The Sustainable Development Goals and the Right to Life
by Steven W. Mosher
Population Research Institute
We are not alone in being suspicious of the United Nations when it comes to the life issues. Beginning with the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994, abortion advocates have been attempting to use the language of U.N. documents, as well as the statements of certain U.N. committees themselves–think the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)–to advance their agenda.
There have been constant battles over the meaning of such phrases as “sexual and reproductive rights” and “sexual and reproductive health care services” that are often embedded in U.N. documents. The abortion movement argues, predictably, that such rights include the right to an abortion. The pro-life movement, aided by the Vatican and a handful of Catholic countries, have been equally insistent that abortion and abortion rights have nothing to do with either sexual or reproductive rights or health care.
With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by the United Nations on September 25th this battle is now raging again. Target 3.7 of the SDGs is aimed at “ensur[ing] universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services,” while target 5.6 seeks to “ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.”
Developing nations who adopt the SDGs will be pressured to legalize abortion, even though the word abortion never appears in the document. They will be told, falsely, that there is an “international consensus” that reproductive rights includes a right to abortion. They will be instructed that laws protecting the unborn violate this consensus and must be replaced with new laws permitting abortion on demand. And they will be threatened with the withholding of international aid unless they comply.
The Catholic bishops of Africa, whose nations have been on the receiving end of just this kind of pressure for decades, have said it best:
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