GENEVA, Switzerland — The World Health Assembly (WHA) last Saturday adopted a global plan to improve the health of newborn babies. “Every newborn: An action plan to end preventable deaths” aims to reduce high rates of neonatal mortality in large parts of the world.
The action plan explains that an estimated 2.9 million children die every year within the first month after birth, and 2.6 million babies are stillborn and that the decline of neonatal mortality has been slower than either under-five mortality or maternal mortality.
What could be nobler than an international commitment to ensuring that all newborn babies remain healthy and will have access to every possible health care they may need? It is a pity that in espousing this excellent initiative the plan fails to take cognizance of the preborn and also includes an unacceptable agenda.
Sadly some of the recommended actions in the document violate parental rights and go against cultural and religious values recognized in international law.
It is regrettable that, in paragraph 90, there is an exclusive focus on promoting ‘[t]argeted programmes in and out of school', together with access to, and use of, modern contraceptive methods.
There is also an exclusive emphasis on so-called “comprehensive sexual education”. The sad fact, however, is that the approach that is popularly known as “comprehensive sexual education” is very far from such. This methodology fails to include other factors that are essential to enable young people to make such life-changing decisions, namely, values formation aimed at helping young people to develop a deep sense of their own unique worth and dignity as well as the capacity to respect themselves and others by abstaining from sexual relationships before marriage and by observing mutual and permanent fidelity within marriage, both of which are effective and evidence-based means to prevent adolescent pregnancy.
It should also be noted that concern has been expressed by parents and family organisations throughout Europe in reaction to the ‘Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe’ published in 2010 by the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the BZgA organization, since it promotes educational messages that are not age appropriate and because it completely ignores the role of the family in sexual education, despite the central role of the family in transmitting values and shaping responsible inter-personal behaviour.
These issues are not the only or even the most serious issues when it becomes clear that the radical agenda can also be found in the footnotes.
Footnote 2 of paragraph 37 cites a document entitled, ‘Preventing Early Pregnancy and Poor Reproductive Outcomes Among Adolescents in Developing Countries’ (WHO 2011).
This document in its section Recommendations for Action highlights the following under the banner of strong recommendations:
• Ensure that laws and policies enable adolescents to obtain safe abortion services.
• Enable adolescents to obtain safe abortion services by informing them and other stakeholders about:
• the dangers of unsafe methods of interrupting a pregnancy;
• the safe abortion services that are legally available; and
• where and under what circumstances these services can be obtained legally.
• Identify and overcome barriers to the provision of safe abortion services to adolescents.
• Ensure access to post-abortion by adolescents care as a life-saving medical intervention, whether or not the abortion or attempted abortion was legal.
• Ensure that adolescents who have had abortions can obtain post-abortion contraceptive information and services, whether or not the abortion was legal.
Needless to say none of this has anything to do with newborn health.