The Commission on Population and Development meeting in its 45th session in New York last week considered issues relating to adolescents and youth.
Negotiations commenced on the text of a resolution, which sought to group together all young people between the ages of 10 – 24 despite the fact that those at the lower end of the scale are immature children while those in their early twenties are young adults with substantially different needs.
The initial document cited issues such as abortion, reproductive health and choice and ignored the importance of parental involvement in children’s lives, but as negotiations developed it became clear that various member states and pro-abortion organisations were determined to implement a very radical agenda including the removal of all legal and other barriers in order to provide unrestricted access to abortion and contraception for young people without parental knowledge or consent hence their insistence on grouping 10 year olds with 24 year olds. One of the major goals of the pro-abortion organizations was to sideline parents and to abolish parental consent laws.
The document also called for so called “comprehensive sexuality education”, and sought to establish rights to sexual orientation and gender identity.
In the pitch battle that ensued the Holy See and several member states opposed the radical agenda by seeking the removal of the offending paragraphs and inserting alternative language into the document.
The Holy See delegate Fr Bene had to keep pointing out that the paragraphs, which called for reproductive health services and commodities were inappropriate for 10 year olds and he stressed the importance of making a distinction throughout the document between 10 year olds and 24 year olds.
Negotiations commenced on Thursday April 19 and by the following Thursday April 26th member state delegates had reached the 11th version of the draft text. By then it was clear that there would never be consensus as the document, which was supposed to focus on population and development, focused more on the area of sexuality.
The Chairman of the meeting at this point set aside the document which had been under negotiation and produced his own “chair’s text’ which was presented to the meeting on a take it or leave it basis. The Chairman made it clear that no alterations would be countenanced to his text apart from grammatical errors or other unimportant issues, which did not affect the substance of the text.
Many delegations were happy to proceed on this basis but others still had major concerns. The Holy See delegate Fr Bene made the following intervention.
“Regarding the proposed chair's text, my delegation expresses serious reservations with this draft which attempts to promote abortion, contraceptives and so-called "comprehensive" "education" and "information" "on human sexuality" and thus immoral behaviours to children. The theme for this session is supposed to be on "youth and adolescents" which UN offices and agencies have interpreted to be as young as 10 years of age. However--and this is most shocking--the prior rights, responsibilities and duties of parents regarding their children is missing from this text. Article 26, 3, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights--on which international consensus exists--states that "parents have the prior right to choose the kind of education to be given to their children." Lack of the prior right of parents regarding their children makes this document unacceptable to my delegation. Here my delegation thinks especially of OP7, OP21, OP22, and OP23.My delegation especially rejects the proposed inclusion of so-called "reproductive rights," a term on which no international consensus exists. The life of the unborn child is very dear to my delegation and many delegations. For this reason my delegation must point out that abortion kills the life of the unborn child and harms the mother. Abortion can never be considered "safe." Furthermore, my delegation rejects the proposed inclusion of so-called "comprehensive education on human sexuality" which, according to the literature, promotes immoral and reckless behaviours and lifestyles.My delegation encourages delegations, to reject this and similar language, and only accept a document which addresses the wellbeing of youth and adolescents by providing access to healthcare, education, and vocational training for employment--elements which have been proposed and supported by numerous delegations--and thus realization of the right to development.”
In the final analysis delegates were successful in limiting the references to abortion to those set out in the 1994 platform for action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) despite the efforts of the pro-abortion organizations and they also succeeded in ensuring there is no reference to sexual rights, sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI) in the document.
The finally approved text of the resolution also reaffirmed the sovereign right of each country to implement recommendations of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development or other proposals in the resolution, consistent with national laws and development priorities, with full respect for the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of its people, and in conformity with universally recognized international human rights.