August 19th is World Humanitarian Day, commemorated by the United Nations and the international community to mark situations of humanitarian emergency around the world. Rather than champion the fundamental human rights of persons living in a situation of humanitarian crisis, much of the UN rhetoric surrounding this day incongruously involves the promotion of abortion. Abortion is in no way the antidote to the suffering caused by a humanitarian emergency.
As an example, in June, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the agency of the UN that promotes “reproductive rights,” abortion in UN parlance, announced that 140 of its “reproductive health service” outfits have been shuttered in Yemen—a country experiencing humanitarian emergency due to an ongoing civil war—because of fundraising shortfalls. To overcome the deficit, it organized virtual pledging and drummed up appeals, but remains over $50 million short of its budget.
Ample evidence points to UNFPA’s promotion of abortion via strategic partnerships with on-the-ground providers, even in countries that ban or restrict the practice. While the Executive Director of UNFPA, Natalia Kanem, stated that, “more than 48,000 women could die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth” as a result of the Agency’s budgetary problems, these numbers are suspect given its erroneous view that abortion, not quality maternal health care, is needed to save a woman’s life.
Yemen, a country on the brink of state-wide starvation, reveals how misdirected humanitarianism may serve as a backdoor channel for abortion promotion. The designation of a crisis as a humanitarian emergency allows the UN nearly unfettered ability to promote abortion. Moreover, COVID-19 is exacerbating humanitarian emergencies everywhere, and the implications for the protection of life, both born and unborn, are dire.
It is clear that government vulnerability to UN pressures is heightened by the added strain of coronavirus. Yemen is one of the recipient countries identified in the $2 billion Global Humanitarian Response Plan from the UN for coronavirus relief. Labeling the UN’s coronavirus plan a “humanitarian response” affords the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNFPA, the primary administrators of aid, substantial flexibility to incorporate abortion promotion as they tackle the pandemic.
The Plan promotes abortion in humanitarian situations specifically via the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP)—a UNFPA initiative for humanitarian emergencies comprising of box kits with “reproductive health materials” for women and girls. The Plan indicates that these kits will be shipped to countries struggling with coronavirus, thereby directly importing abortion, often in countries where it is illegal or highly restricted, such as Yemen.
MISP kits include a variety of materials commonly associated with abortion such as vacuum extractors, tools for dilation and curettage, and various abortifacient medication, in addition to cranioclasts for the crushing of fetal skulls. A manual is included with information on their usage for first trimester abortions. Moreover, as part of the package, UN staff are trained in abortion referral, making use of the vast partnerships UNFPA has with abortion providers such as International Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International.
UNFPA has stated with regard to Yemen that, “in humanitarian situations, women’s vulnerability to violence and exploitation escalates. And even before the pandemic, hundreds of women and girls in humanitarian and fragile settings died each day from complications of pregnancy and childbirth”. While both true and tragic—Yemen demands the full attention of the international community—the Agency’s emphasis on the plight of Yemeni women and girls is a thinly-veiled attempt to exploit the pandemic for its abortion agenda.
As recalled by Pope Saint John Paul II in his 1995 address to the UN, “the international cooperation called for by the Charter of the United Nations for ‘solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character’” (art. 1.3) cannot be conceived exclusively in terms of help and assistance, or even by considering the eventual returns on the resources provided. When millions of people are suffering…we must not only remind ourselves that no one has a right to exploit another for his own advantage, but also and above all we must recommit ourselves to …solidarity”.
A great defender of justified and appropriate humanitarian intervention, the Pope called on the UN “to become a moral centre where all the nations of the world feel at home and develop a shared awareness of being, as it were, a ‘family of nations’”. In a family, he notes, “the strong do not dominate; instead, the weaker members…are all the more welcomed and served”. The international community would do well to revisit his advice, and cease the exploitation of the weak in the name of inauthentic humanitarianism.