PANAMA CITY, Panama — Pro-life and pro-family organizations from all over Latin America met in Panama City during the week of April 6-11 at the VII Summit of the Americas.
The Summit is the most important gathering of the year for heads of state and governments of the member states of the Organization of American States (OAS).
During the week, organizations were able to uphold the importance of the family by presenting recommendations to the leaders in attendance, giving it an important focus for the entire region. The main objective of the Summit is to address new and continuing challenges faced by the countries of the Americas. Leaders discuss common policy issues, shared values, and commit to concerted actions at the national and regional level to achieve this.
It is also an opportunity for them to listen to civil society organizations that gather prior to the beginning of the summit to discuss issues of importance and prepare recommendations. The Summit therefore creates an important forum for the exercise of democracy. This year, the organizations gathered in Panama focused their work on eight different topics: Democracy, Citizens’ Participation, Education, Health, Energy, Environment, Migration, and Security.
This year, the organizations gathered in Panama focused their work on eight different topics: Democracy, Citizens’ Participation, Education, Health, Energy, Environment, Migration, and Security.
Life and family
Prior to this historic Summit, there is no record of participation from pro-life and pro-family organizations. As result of this, since the first Summit in Miami in 1994, the family has been left out of the discussion and discourse, mainly because LGBT groups consider it to be a form of discrimination against them.
This year, the attempt to shut out the family was no different. The participation of civil society organizations was left in the hands of a Panamanian organization, which left at least 100 representatives from pro-life and pro-family organizations without the opportunity to participate. The justification was that “balance” was needed and that others should be given the chance to participate.
One of the biggest challenges faced during this Summit was getting good recommendations from the Health and Education work tables to present before the heads of state and government. On one hand, there was a strong push from pro-abortion groups on the Health table to include abortion as one of the priorities to improve women’s health in a predominantly pro-life region. On the other hand, on the Education table, LGBT activists pushed for the inclusion of “non-traditional families” when talking about the importance of parents’ involvement in their children’s education.
The majority of participants on each of the working tables attempted to keep the recommendations focused on what was considered a priority. In a situation of strong “push and pull”, abortion was successfully left out of the recommendations, and an explicit mention that education should be based on values, and not leave out parents and the family, was included.
Given these results, there was an overall sense of frustration from pro-abortion and LGBT activists. The Inter-American System has been a field where they have been able to play by themselves for many years, without any opposition or obstacles to advance their agenda. Despite comments suggesting that this Summit was a setback, for many it represented a significant advancement. The right to life and the family were clearly upheld during this VII Summit of the Americas.
In the meantime, ADF International will keep speaking up for life, family, and religious freedom at the Organization of American States, until the next Summit takes place in Peru in 2018.