By Laura Miranda-Flefil of Alliance Defending Freedom
On June 2, the newest version of the working document for the Sustainable Development Goals was released. It includes the controversial term “reproductive rights”: legalese for abortion. Member states and non-governmental agencies have urged for the term to be omitted.
Those who advocate for abortion have always done so aggressively, but it is shocking to see them use a new tactic: lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender LGTB “rights” as a bargaining chip for abortion. Unfortunately, pro-life and pro-family member states have recently capitulated on “reproductive rights” and other similar abortion language in order to ban anything related to “LGBT” issues at the United Nations level.
The SDGs that are being negotiated at the UN are the future international development objectives that will be in effect from 2015 to 2030. The current development agenda is centered on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) established in 2000 and scheduled to end in 2015. In June of 2012, 192 countries held the UN Conference on Sustainable Development and produced an outcome document called “The Future We Want”, commonly referred to as Rio+20. This document sets out a vision for development that includes economic, social and environmental aspects.
Since Rio+20 does not set out a specific set of goals, an Open Working Group was formed to produce a report for approval by the General Assembly. The current version includes a proposed goal to “attain gender equality, empower women and girls everywhere,” with a highly controversial target of ensuring universal access to reproductive rights in accordance with ICPD. “Reproductive rights” is code language for abortion, as former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a testimony before Congress.
But pro-life groups are not alone in the battle to eliminate abortion language from UN documents. During the last Open Working Group, countries from many parts of the world rejected this language. Among those included were the Group 77 + China, the African Group, the Group of Southern African Countries, the Arab Group, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakistan, Nicaragua, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. They do so because the phrase has not been defined by international law and does not have universal consensus or approval.
The newest tactic that was successfully used last April during the annual Commission on Population and Development will most likely be implemented moving forward. Sexual rights, a term that is not found in international law and is defined by International Planned Parenthood Federation to include sexual orientation and gender identity, was used as a bargaining chip to include abortion language. Member states that wanted to block references to homosexual behavior were pressured to accept abortion language as a consequence.
We will continue to work with our allies to stop this language with dangerous consequences from infiltrating the SDGs process. We will fight for authentic sustainable development that prioritizes human dignity and the right to life. Surrendering is not an option.
-Laura Miranda-Flefil is UN Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an international alliance-building legal organization that advocates for religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and marriage and the family. Alliance Defending Freedom is at the forefront of legal battles in these areas, with more cases before the European Court of Human Rights than any other faith-based legal organization, and involvement in numerous cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Alliance Defending Freedom has an alliance of nearly 2,300 attorneys worldwide. ADF is also accredited with the European Parliament, EU Fundamental Rights Agency, Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe, and Organization for American States, and has consultative status with the United Nations.