Latin American delegates propose abortion for adolescents at population summit in Puerto Rico
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.- A resolution co-sponsored by most Latin American countries, with the exception of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, who joined the U.S. pro-life delegation, emerged yesterday endorsing a declaration that calls for the provision of “user-friendly sexual and reproductive health services” for adolescents. The term “reproductive health services” has been understood by United Nations agencies like WHO, UNICEF, and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) to include abortion.

The declaration goes beyond any prior United Nations document by telling countries to promote abortion, accommodate adolescent sexual promiscuity, and deny parents the right to be involved in these sensitive areas, thus leaving children vulnerable to adults and abortionists who would exploit them.

The resolution, introduced at a meeting in Puerto Rico of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), endorses the Santiago Declaration, released at an ECLAC meeting in Chile held in March 2004.  ECLAC is reviewing how countries are implementing the provisions of a controversial document on population and development produced in Cairo in 1994. The meetings are dominated by UNFPA, which assists China with its forced abortion program,

The Santiago Declaration calls upon ECLAC members to “recognize, promote and protect the right of adolescents and young people to access information, education and user-friendly sexual and reproductive health services, safeguarding the right of adolescents and youth to privacy, confidentiality, and informed consent.” 

According to pro-life leaders, "this goes far beyond the International Conference on Population and Development. Strikingly absent is any mention of parental involvement. Without such involvement, a child could engage in, or be coerced into, harmful sexual behavior and even have an abortion without her parents’ knowledge."

The Santiago Declaration also calls for countries to report to the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women on how it is implementing the provisions. This committee has pressured countries to decriminalize abortion and make access to abortion “swift and easy.” 

A spokesman for the Latin American Alliance for Family (ALAFA) revealed that "abortion advocates have described (in memos and lawsuits) their strategy to force countries to overturn laws protecting unborn babies by convincing delegates to agree to international documents with vague language. Then abortion groups will file lawsuits in international and national courts seeking judges to overturn countries’ laws, or tell legislators that they are bound to undo their laws to be in compliance with the international agreements."

Most Latin American countries, who have explicit prohibitions against abortion in their constitutions,  seem not to be aware that their delegates are supporting the controversial resolution.

Problems with the "Santiago Declaration"

According to ALAFA, some of the problems with the Santiago Declaration are as follows:

There is refererence to the rights of adolescents and youth to sexual and reproductive health services, including the right to privacy and informed consent, without any accompanying language that links these rights to the rights, duties and responsibilities of parents, who have primary responsibility for their children's education and well-being.

In regard to sexual and reproductive health for adolescents, there is no reference to abstinence which is the healthiest choice for unmarried adolescents.

It reaffirms the Cairo and Cairo + 5 documents without reference to, or taking into account, the numerous reservations and interpretative statements made at the time of the adoption of these documents.

In regard to Reproductive Rights (which can be interpreted to include abortion) it calls for the review and implementation of  “legislation guaranteeing the responsible exercise of reproductive rights and reproductive health, and to non-discriminatory access to health services, including sexual and reproductive health, and for incorporation of information on the promotion of reproductive rights and respect for such rights in national reports, including the report submitted to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.”

The language in the quote above could be interpreted as a call for changes in laws on abortion and is also urging ECLAC members to give reports to the CEDAW Committee which is already pressuring Latin American countries (Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay) and others to change their laws to make abortion legal.

The Santiago Declaration calls for the incorporation of public policies in health sector reforms that promote the exercise of "reproductive rights."

It also calls for the training and equipping of health care providers to increase access to abortion.

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