Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, who is leading the U.S. delegation, stood firm in private meetings Wednesday in the face of strong European objections to U.S. positions such as abortion and redefinition of the family, the Washington Times reported.
European delegations are pushing for the redefinition of the family "in its various forms." Language in documents of prior world conferences dating to 1995 give primacy to the natural husband-wife unit.
The United States is demanding the inclusion of other language stating that "marriage must be entered into with the free consent of the intending spouses, and husband and wife should be equal partners," sources familiar with negotiations for a final summit document told the Times.
The U.S. delegation also is battling European insistence that "reproductive health services" be guaranteed by member states to all children, which, a senior Canadian negotiator recently admitted, included abortions.
A State Department legal adviser, Michael Dennis, told the Washington Post that the U.S. delegation wants the final document to promote abstinence.
Meanwhile, the European Union and certain Latin American countries of the so-called Rio Group removed language that said implementation of international health and reproductive health programs would take into account "national laws, religious beliefs and cultural values" of countries.
Removing that language, in effect, could give the U.N. document more power to overcome resistance in Christian and Muslim countries, the Washington Times said.