Several organizations expressed their dismay at the end of the Oct. 18-20 conference in a letter sent to the conference organizing committee. The conference brought together some 1,800 participants, including health care professionals, high-level officials from 35 countries and U.N. representatives.
According to the letter, "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."
The three-day conference included a grant announcement of more than $200 million from the United Kingdom to the United Nations Population Fund.
The letter's signatories noted that 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," they wrote. "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."
The letter concludes with a call to "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."
Fourteen organizations signed the letter, including Concerned Women for America, MaterCare International, the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, United Families International and the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations.