Third-World ´Condom Crisis´ a Sham, Pro-lifers Say

U.N. Population Fund Is Creating Demand, They Charge

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NEW YORK, FEB. 20, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The United Nations Population Fund is begging help from Western governments, claiming it faces a "condom crisis" in Third World nations.



But pro-life critics and Catholic activists call it a sham crisis manufactured by an agency that is dedicated to population control, the National Catholic Register reports.

The British and Dutch governments responded to the UNFPA appeal last fall, pledging $37 million and $39 million, respectively, the newspaper said (NCRegister.com).

But the "condom crisis" claim was dismissed as nonexistent by Austin Ruse, president of the New York-based Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.

"They do this all the time," Ruse told the Register. "They claim they are just trying to keep up with the demand [for condoms], when they have created a demand by their promotion of contraception."

UNFPA denies the charge. Its press spokesman William Ryan replied, "If you go to countries with a high rate of HIV infection you will see it is really quite extraordinary to suggest this."

Clare Short, the international development secretary for the Labor government, said Britain would provide the money to help UNFPA cope with the increasing demand for safe contraceptives in the developing world.

Asked to justify the policy, Short replied in a written statement to the Register. "The rising demand for contraceptives in the developing world is encouraging," Short said. "It means that children are born by choice and are therefore more likely to thrive and also that the spread of HIV/AIDS is reduced."

Short added, "We are therefore doing all we can to make sure that this demand is met. The AIDS pandemic is spreading at an alarming rate, with up to a quarter of all adults infected in some African countries."

The British Department for International Development said the use of contraceptives around the world has grown dramatically in the last 35 years, up from 10% of couples to around 60% today.

But pro-life advocates charge that the surge in demand for condoms in developing countries is due to aggressive promotion by U.N. agencies, Western governments and pro-contraceptive nongovernmental organizations, the Register said.

U.N. watchdog Ruse said that the UNFPA "promotes abortion and contraception -- it forces countries to accept the full ‘reproductive rights’ package."

Ruse cited events in early 2000 in Nicaragua, where senior government officials charged that UNFPA representatives withheld $11 million in aid money until the government softened its opposition to contraceptive programs.

"Their program … was rejected by the government of Nicaragua and they withdrew all aid saying they had to accept reproductive rights or nothing," Ruse said. "They forced their way in."

Ruse, who traveled to Kosovo in 1999 to research UNFPA’s alleged promotion of abortion and contraception there in the wake of the war with Serbia, told the Register, "They changed their story three times when asked about how they came to be involved in Kosovo. First we were told they were invited in. Next it was that they invited themselves and finally that they entered without permission."

UNFPA officials have consistently denied that they are engaged in the promotion of abortion.

But other observers insist that the U.N. agency is becoming more open in its promotion of "reproductive rights" and "reproductive health," terms coined by pro-abortion activists who interpret them to include access to on-demand abortion.

Jim Vittitow, education director of the Virginia-based Population Research Institute, cited an interview published by the U.N. Foundation’s U.N. Wire news service last year with outgoing UNFPA Executive Director Nafis Sadik. Sadik said that she had been very successful at changing policies around the globe in areas of reproductive health, population issues, and family planning. Sadik led the UNFPA for 14 years.

Father Thomas Euteneuer, the president of Human Life International, counters that the UNFPA’s pro-contraceptive policies are actually destroying developing countries -- morally, physically and economically.

"The UNFPA, in soliciting funds for its campaign to distribute contraceptives in the third world, is committing a tri-fold sin," Father Euteneuer told the Register.

"They are introducing the sin of contraception and its denial of God’s plan for love and the family; they are force-feeding the culture of death and its inevitable products -- disease, immorality, promiscuity, abortion, and the dissolution of the family -- to uneducated, unsophisticated and innocent people; and they are robbing these countries of their single most important resource -- people."

Added Father Euteneuer, "This is what Pope John Paul II aptly calls ´contraceptive imperialism.´"