President-elect Barack Obama’s selection of Sen. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State has caused concern among pro-life leaders due to her past international advocacy for permissive abortion laws. Her appointment could foreshadow changes in U.S. policy at the U.N. concerning the rights of the unborn.
According to the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), Critics claim that Sen. Clinton, who was First Lady during her husband Bill Clinton’s presidency, had a major voice in the U.N. social policy of the Clinton administration. Her influence, encompassing several major U.N. conferences, included her participation at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.
There, Sen. Clinton coined the phrase "women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights." The slogan became a rallying cry for a right to abortion.
Sen. Clinton’s work with former U.S. Sen. Tim Wirth, the Undersecretary for Global Affairs in the Clinton State Department, sought to broaden access to abortion.
Wirth, who headed the U.S. delegation at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, was accused of telling Egyptian security officials that a particular pro-life activist was a terrorist, resulting in his arrest and detention.
Rep. Chris Smith reportedly intervened to secure the activist’s release.
"Hillary would promote her husband’s agenda at the United Nations to make abortion a fundamental human right worldwide," Jeanne Head, a pro-life advocate and attendee at the Beijing conference, told C-FAM. "Hillary would promote her husband’s agenda at the United Nations to make abortion a fundamental human right worldwide."
Pro-life leaders have also voiced concern about Susan E. Rice, Obama’s nominee for ambassador to the U.N. As President Clinton’s Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Rice worked closely with Wirth. She has been praised by abortion advocates such as Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, but her published work reportedly shows no open support of abortion.
Specific U.N.-related policy changes under an Obama administration could include the promotion of "universal access to reproductive health" as a goal under the Millennium Development (MDG) Goal 5, though no such target was agreed to by the U.N. member states when the goals were voted on in 2000.
Sen. Clinton, as Obama’s Secretary of State, is also expected to promote abortion at global conferences such as "Beijing plus 15" scheduled for 2010. In 2009, the "Cairo plus 15" conference will be held to review the International Conference on Population and Development which took place 15 years ago.
President-elect Obama has appointed abortion advocates to other prominent positions. Ellen Moran of the pro-abortion rights Emily’s List was chosen as his communications director, while former NARAL Pro-choice America legal director Dawn Johnsen was appointed to be a member of Obama’s transition team.
Obama appears to be "peppering abortion proponents throughout his Administration," Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America, told C-FAM.