CMDA's The Point

U.S. Sends Shot Across Bow of UN, WHO with Multilateral, Pro-Life Health Declaration

November 5, 2020
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by Jonathan Imbody

“At stake in this battle is the funding and prevalence of abortion, influencing societal views on abortion and securing or losing conscience freedom for pro-life healthcare professionals.”

At a signing ceremony in Washington, D.C. on October 22, 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar laid out a multilateral agreement that sends a clear message to the United Nations and the World Health Organization: Stop pressuring countries to submit to a radical abortion agenda and focus instead on consensus global health issues.

Led by the United States and now joined by 31 other countries, the Geneva Consensus Declaration lays down four pillars of priorities for international healthcare programs:

  1. Improving women’s health;
  2. Preserving human life;
  3. Strengthening the family; and
  4. Protecting national sovereignty.

The Declaration asserts, for example, that:

  • “There is no international right to abortion, nor any international obligation on the part of States to finance or facilitate abortion;”
  • “In no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning;”
  • “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State;” and
  • “Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.”

Christian health professionals laud the Declaration

In a Christian Medical Association news release heralding the declaration, Senior Vice Presidents for Bioethics and Public Policy Dr. Jeffrey Barrows noted, “As an obstetrician, I especially appreciate the Declaration’s dual emphasis on mother and child. The Declaration reaffirms both that ‘motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.’ It also notes that ‘the child… needs special safeguards and care… before as well as after birth’ and that ‘special measures of protection and assistance should be taken on behalf of all children,’ based on the principle of the best interest of the child.’

“Countries must learn to work together on consensus global health issues,” Barrows continued, “rather than fight each other on ideological disagreements. Working together on consensus health issues, we can maximize our health resources and programs that will benefit all women while respecting the dignity of every person.”

Declaration counters UN, WHO abortion activism and agenda

The Geneva statement reflects the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy of the United States. According to HHS, the policy “negotiates health policy at multilateral settings where policies are debated and set, like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN).” Activists within both the UN and WHO have vociferously advocated for abortion on demand, reportedly pressuring countries behind the scenes with the threat of loss of funding and standing should they fail to enact the pro-abortion agenda into laws.

In April this year, President Trump yanked hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. funding of the WHO, saying the agency had put “political correctness over lifesaving measures.”

In September this year, the President declared in a speech to the UN General Assembly, “My administration is advancing religious liberty … and protecting unborn children.”

That pro-abortion activism and agenda falls well outside the founding mandates of these organizations. Often ignoring the cultural and religious values of many countries, the abortion advocacy of these agencies and ideologically aligned countries also diverts funding and energy from addressing solvable health problems on which there is universal agreement.

Abortion activism undermines action on solvable health problems

As I noted in the press release, “When surveyed on women’s global health, our members serving in medical missions around the world have overwhelmingly agreed that ‘Rather than advocating for abortion rights, the international health community, governments and international bodies should instead focus energy, time and resources on meeting women’s health needs for which there is widespread agreement regarding strategies.’

“They also overwhelmingly agree with the statement, ‘Abortion rights advocacy by some governments, world health and other international bodies is detracting attention and resources from women’s health needs on which there is widespread agreement.’

“Instead, these medical missionaries say that efforts should focus on addressing solvable women’s health issues such as maternal health, pregnancy complications, malaria and sexually transmitted diseases.”

International abortion policies impact US policies and conscience freedoms

This international battle over abortion and health priorities is vitally important, not just for overseas patients and health professionals and institutions, but also for patients and pro-life health professionals and institutions in the United States. The international abortion movement (a) exerts significant pressure on U.S. policymakers to conform to “world opinion;” (b) reinforces the activism of U.S. abortion advocates; and (c) validates the policy agendas of pro-abortion U.S. politicians.

Because this battle impacts the funding and prevalence of abortion, influences societal views on abortion and threatens conscience freedom for pro-life healthcare professionals, it merits our effective engagement.

What can I do?

  1. Pray that God would:
    1. Combat the invisible spiritual forces of darkness and death;
    2. Increase and strengthen pro-life influence in international agencies; and
    3. Turn the hearts of the mothers and fathers in our own nation back to Him and His kingdom principles.
  2. Vote and advocate for pro-life candidates for office. Visit our Freedom2Care website to register to vote and to see who are your candidates.
  3. Urge policymakers in the White House, Congress and federal agencies to keep policies such as Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance that prevent U.S. funds from propping up the abortion industry overseas. (Sign up for Freedom2Care updates, to receive action opportunities as they arise.)

To learn more


About Jonathan Imbody

Jonathan previously served as CMDA's Federal Policy Analyst and as CMDA's liaison with the federal government in Washington, D.C. A veteran writer of more than 30 years, Jonathan authored Faith Steps, which encourages and equips Christians to engage in public policy issues. He has published more than 100 commentaries in The Washington Post, USA Today, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Sun-Times and many other national publications. Jonathan's writing focuses on public policy issues including freedom of faith, conscience and speech; human trafficking; abortion; assisted suicide; stem cell research; the role of faith in health; international health; healthcare policy; sexual risk avoidance and HIV/AIDS. Jonathan received his bachelor's degree in journalism and speech communications from the Pennsylvania State University, a master's degree from Penn State in counseling and education and a certificate in biblical and theological studies from the Alliance Theological Seminary in New York. Jonathan's wife Amy is an author and leads the Redemptive Education movement. They have four children and four grandchildren.

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