UNICEF's world is unfit for children
Right or Wrong?
The U.N. Child Summit convened in New York City last May to promote the welfare of children. Two intriguing concepts of child welfare emerged.
First, only a coalition of the United States, the Holy See and various Muslim and African nations prevented the inclusion of a right to abortion in the Summit's final action document, "A World Fit for Children."
Abortion, of course, protects children by killing them because they are not fit for the world. The Vatican and Muslim nations had acted together to oppose U.N. endorsements of abortion at Cairo and other conferences during the Clinton Administration.
The second odd concept of child welfare surfaced when it was disclosed at the Summit that UNICEF, the U.N. Children's Fund, had financed the 1999 publication and distribution by the Mexican government of a book called "Theoretic Elements for Working with Mothers and Pregnant Teens."
The book states: "Reproductive health includes the following components: counseling on sexuality, pregnancy, methods of contraception, abortion, infertility, infections and diseases."
An accompanying workshop book tells mothers and teens about ways to obtain sexual pleasure. On "sexual relations with a partner," the book says, "Here we should insist there is (sic) no ideal or perfect relations between two or several people ... This is why we encounter many differences among women. Some women like to have relations with men. And others with another woman."
UNICEF spokesman, Alfred Ironside, said the book was, "a product of the Mexican government supported by UNICEF financially." He described it as, "a training manual for people working with adolescent women to prevent teen pregnancy." Ironside and Carol Bellamy, UNICEF executive director, said the book had been withdrawn from circulation. Leonara Valdes, a former official with the Mexican government department that produced the book, denied that claim and said the book is still being used in some Mexican states.
UNICEF is no stranger to controversy over such matters. Since at least 1966, UNICEF has promoted contraception, sterilization and other birth-reduction programs.
In 1996, the Vatican Mission to the U.N. suspended its "symbolic" contribution of $2,000 a year to UNICEF. "The new involvement of UNICEF in the areas of concern" the Vatican Mission said, "had forced the Holy See to take this visible step." The Vatican charged that UNICEF had participated in the publication of a U.N. manual "advocating the distribution of post-coital contraceptives to refugee women in emergency situations" and had become "involved in advocacy work" on abortion legislation. "Post-coital contraceptives" are not really contraceptives. They cause abortion early in pregnancy.
The Vatican also said that UNICEF workers in various countries had "distributed contraceptives and counseled people on using them." Archbishop Renato Martino said the decision was made after UNICEF announced that it would distribute "contraceptives and drugs to terminate pregnancies" to refugees in Rwanda and Zaire. The Vatican still refuses to contribute to UNICEF.
In October of 2000, Archbishop Saenz Lacalle of San Salvador denounced from the pulpit an "insinuating and grotesque" 170-page sex-education booklet designed by UNICEF and El Salvador's Ministries of Health and Education for training adolescents on sexuality issues including contraception, homosexuality and abortion.
These comments are not meant to criticize the little kids carrying the UNICEF donation cans on Halloween and the many persons who send UNICEF "holiday cards." Last year in the United States, UNICEF enlisted 2.5 million "Trick-or-Treaters" to forego asking for candy and instead to raise nearly $4 million for UNICEF. The "holiday cards" raised in the United States another $13 million for UNICEF. The kids and the users of the cards want to help needy children, which UNICEF does in various respects.
But it would seem to be time for truth-in-labeling, for full disclosure that UNICEF's idea of promoting "A World Fit for Children" includes the prevention of children coming into existence and the distribution of abortifacients which kill children because somebody thinks they are unfit for the world.
Professor Emeritus Rice is on the Law School faculty. His column normally appears every other Tuesday. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Viewpoint Stories for Friday, September 20, 2002