Cracks in the wall at Women Deliver

When I first learned about the Women Deliver 4th Global Conference in Copenhagen I was struck by the fact that in the Advisory group the only national government was the government of The Netherlands. The list further contained abortion providers International Planned Parenthood Federation, Marie Stopes International, several UN organizations and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Clearer than that it could not have been: this will be a one-sided event and my government is on the forefront of it. When I asked two friends who are experienced in pro-life advocacy at meetings of the United Nations, they both told me: “It will be a terrible conference.”


The Women Deliver conference took place from May 16 till May 19, 2016, in the Bella Center in Copenhagen. Was it terrible? Yes, even beyond comprehension. Abortion was presented as a human right and no debate was allowed on the subject. Characteristic was the plenary session on Wednesday, May 18, Tough Talks. The Elephant in the Room: What About Abortion? The announcement gave reasons to expect some debate: “Even advocates who are deeply committed to reproductive health and rights, including abortion, have different positions on its morality, the extent to which it should be legal, and the best strategies for gaining public support.” However, the three specialists who spoke on the subject, Imane Khachani, Marleen Temmerman and Nozer Sheriar were all advocates of abortion of the most extreme sort.


The young Imane from Morocco: “Abortion saves women’s lives. Let us take away all stigmatization about it.” Indian gynecologist Nozer: “We have to start shouting from the housetops. Someone once said, ‘Abortion should be safe, legal and rare.’ I say, ‘Abortion must be safe, legal and common.’” At another moment: “Anything women do 56 million times a year cannot be wrong.” A day later journalist and author Michelle Goldberg, moderator of another plenary session, concluded her session by saying: “The question is not whether a fetus is a human being. The question is whether a woman is a human being.” The point was also made by The Women Deliver Award for Courage that was given to Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Women Deliver Conference was a partisan event.


Women Deliver was a major event in the largest convention center of Scandinavia, with over 5700 participants registered and world leaders and royalty present. Over 500 participants from developing countries had received full scholarship. The organizers boasted tens of millions of followers in the social media and on internet. It seemed to be a done deal. Legal safe abortion saves lives and is therefore a human right. Figures to prove that millions of women suffer from complications after illegal and unsafe abortions were provided by the Guttmacher Institute. Personal stories told the tragedy. Abortion and the UN goals for sustainable development were mentioned in one breath and UN agencies and the UN deputy high commissioner for human rights were there to underline it all.


There are, however, some cracks in the wall. That the child in the womb might also have some humanity and rights of its own must be flatly denied. The thought alone is too disturbing. Abortion on demand is not part of the UN goals. To present it otherwise was deceitful. There are enough countries in the world that do not want this. Even within countries there are divisions. Planned Parenthood USA is getting setbacks in different states. Unsafe abortion hurts women, but so does legal and ‘safe’ abortion. There are many women who testify to that fact and their personal stories are compelling. Abortion on demand has some undesired side-effects. The practice of sex-selective abortion in Asian countries is neither small nor morally defensible, especially in the light of the official UN goal of ‘gender equality’. At the press conference of the Guttmacher Institute at Women Deliver an Indian journalist forced its spokesman to admit that sex-selective abortion is a serious problem. The pro-aborts are just well-funded, well-connected, very committed and passionate. They are always in for a fight. It is unlikely however, that those who are on the other side of the issue are going to give up.


May 20, 2016

Alex van Vuuren, director of general affairs

Schreeuw om Leven / Cry for Life The Netherlands