Letter to "Women Deliver" Conference Organizers

"Genuine Health Care Needs of Women Were Virtually Ignored"

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LONDON, OCT. 22, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of a letter sent to the organizing committee of the Women Deliver conference, held to discuss the issue of maternal mortality Oct. 18-21 in London. Various participating associations sent the text at the end of the conference, stating disappointment that instead of addressing the real health care needs of women and children, the agenda focused on promoting the ideology and practice of abortion.



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London, Oct. 20, 2007

Delivered to: Jill Sheffield, president, Family Care International and the Organizing Committee Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro, deputy secretary-general of the United Nations and Honorable Mary Robinson, president of Realizing Rights and conference honorary co-chair.

We, the undersigned organizations, wish to express our profound disappointment and dismay that the Women Deliver conference has failed to meet its stated objective of addressing Millennium Development Goal 5, which is to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity.

Delegates were invited to attend a global conference on the causes, prevention and treatment of the complications of pregnancy and childbirth, which lead to the deaths of so many mothers, particularly in developing countries, and to consider effective solutions.

Regrettably, the conference agenda was so preoccupied with promoting the ideology and practice of abortion that the genuine health care needs of women and children were virtually ignored in the plenary sessions and overwhelmed in the panel discussions.

Numerous U.N. reports, such as "The World's Women 2005: Progress in Statistics," have concluded that accurate data about maternal mortality, including abortion, are not available, especially for the developing world. Therefore, the presentation of unsubstantiated and unreliable data on illegal abortion as fact can only be seen as a deliberate attempt to mislead the conferees and the international community.

To assert that "unsafe abortions" are only those that are illegal, and to subsequently imply that legal abortion is therefore safe, is both disingenuous and scientifically flawed. The fact that the WHO [World Health Organization] will not be collecting information on the morbidity and mortality related to legal abortion is unconscionable if there is truly a commitment to accurate and meaningful data collection on morbidity and mortality statistics.

The consistent assertions that improvements in the maternal mortality rate are dependent on the promotion of legal abortion not only diverts attention from the urgent need for basic heath care, skilled birth attendants and emergency obstetrics, it threatens to undermine the field of obstetrics and gynecology if implemented on a wide scale.

Furthermore, we oppose the fact that:

-- Members of the organizing committee, including the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and Marie Stopes International, who have financial interests in the provision of abortion, have used the conference to promote a private agenda to spread abortion throughout the developing world;

-- The organizing committee has attempted to manufacture a false consensus by ensuring that only the views that reinforced its preconceived ideas were represented during the conference;

-- The conference has sidelined the main issues related to maternal mortality (basic health conditions based on vaccine availability, clean water, sanitation, basic nutritional supplementation, primary medical postnatal and perinatal care, fistula, female genital mutilation, hemorrhage, sepsis, obstructed labor, eclampsia). Such sidelining is a serious act of negligence that leads not only to continuing, but increasing, the risks associated with maternal health.

We call upon the conference partners to focus on basic health care, skilled attendants and emergency obstetrics, which have been the key to decreasing maternal mortality in the developed world, instead of exploiting the tragedy of maternal mortality to promote abortion rights.

-- Instituto De Política Familiar (IPF), ECOSOC consultative status with the United Nations.

-- Concerned Women for America (CWA), ECOSOC consultative status with the United Nations.

-- MaterCare International (MCI), ECOSOC consultative status with the United Nations.

-- World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (FIAMC), ECOSOC consultative status with the United Nations.

-- United Families International (UFI), ECOSOC consultative status with the United Nations.

-- Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), ECOSOC consultative status with the United Nations.

-- World Union of Catholic Women's Organisations (WUCWO), ECOSOC consultative status with the United Nations.

-- Federación Española de Asociaciones Provida, ECOSOC consultative status with the United Nations.

-- Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM)

-- American Association of Prolife Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG)

-- Instituto Mujer y Vida, Spain

-- Comité Nacional Provida de México, A.C.

-- Salud Sexual y Reproductiva De México, A.C.

-- Asociación Mexicana Cultura de la Vida

[Text adapted]