Washington, DC -- The United States has faced a steady stream of opposition for its stance against abortion at a population conference in Bangkok, Thailand, this week, but several pro-life groups are applauding the Bush administration for its courage.
As the Fifth Asian and Pacific Population Conference winds down Tuesday, the U.S. delegation continues to oppose language like "reproductive health services," which is viewed as encouraging abortion. Similar terms were included in the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development agreement.
Abortion supporters and opponents view the Bangkok conference as an important step leading up to the 10-year review of the 1994 agreement that was reached by 179 countries in Cairo. Several other regional meetings are planned, and the language could play a role at those gatherings.
The Population Research Institute has closely monitored the Bangkok summit. Spokesman Scott Weinberg said he was encouraged that the Bush administration is sticking to its principles and unwilling to give in to the demands of abortion supporters.
"It's going to be very difficult for the international abortion community to move ahead with its abortion agenda," Weinberg said. "It's a very courageous and heroic thing the U.S. delegation has done."
Population Connection, a group that supports abortion, claims that by opposing language that appears in the Cairo agreement -- including terms like "reproductive rights" and "sexual rights" -- the United States has isolated itself.
"The Bush administration is now proving to be completely out of touch not just with America, but with the rest of the world as well on family planning," said Peter H. Kostmayer, the group's president, who also served 14 years as a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
According to Population Connection, about 60 countries have agreed to a proposal at the Bangkok meeting, and only the United States refuses to go along, primarily for its concern that certain language promotes abortion.
Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, said groups like his that oppose abortion could not be more pleased with the administration's stance at the Bangkok meeting. He said abortion supporters have become increasingly frustrated and are spreading misleading information as a result.
Another group opposed to abortion, Concerned Women for America, has been critical of the 1994 Cairo agreement. Wendy Wright, the group's senior policy director, lauded the current administration for its work at the Bangkok meeting and its consistent policies opposing international aid for abortions.
"President Bush has done a remarkable job improving the dialogue that takes place at the United Nations," Wright said. "His delegates bring a dimension that's rarely talked about, and that's a moral dimension. Moral beliefs and policies are the healthiest policies."
Abortion supporters have used the issue to attack the Bush administration's policies, including the ones being advanced at the Bangkok meeting. But Ruse said even if the United States must stand alone at this population conference, that is its responsibility.
"The Bush administration is saying, 'Let words mean what they normally mean. Get rid of the double-speak.' And it just so happens that this is an attack on the international abortion movement," he said. "They will make a stand on principle, even if they're the only one that will do it."
Source: Cybercast News Service; December 17, 2002