National Catholic Register


Pro-Lifers Reject U.N. Agency’s Claim of ‘Condom Crisis’

BY Paul Burnell

Feb. 11-17, 2001 Issue | Posted 2/11/01 at 1:00 PM


NEW YORK — The United Nations Population Fund, also known as UNFPA, has sent round the begging bowl to western governments, claiming it faces a “condom crisis” in Third World nations.

But pro-life critics and Catholic activists say this is a sham crisis manufactured by an agency that is dedicated to population control.

Quick to respond to the UNFPA appeal, issued late last fall, to fund more condoms for poverty-stricken nations were the British and Dutch governments, who have pledged substantial new donations to UNFPA — $37 million and $39 million respectively.

But the “condom crisis” claim was dismissed as non-existent by Austin Ruse, president of the New York-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute,

“They do this all the time,” Ruse told the Register. “They claim they are just trying to keep up with the demand [for condoms], when they have created a demand by their promotion of contraception.”

Asked to comment on Ruse's charge, UNFPA press spokesman William Ryan replied, “I don't see why I should have to answer. If you go to countries with a high rate of HIV infection you will see it is really quite extraordinary to suggest this.”

The British government announced its grant to UNFPA in mid-December. Clare Short, the international development secretary for the Labor government, said Britain would be providing the money to help UNFPA cope with the increasing demand for safe contraceptives in the developing world.

Asked to justify the policy, Short replied in a written statement to the Register. “The rising demand for contraceptives in the developing world is encouraging,” Short said. “It means that children are born by choice and are therefore more likely to thrive and also that the spread of HIV/AIDS is reduced.”

Short, a lapsed Catholic, added, “We are therefore doing all we can to make sure that this demand is met. The AIDS pandemic is spreading at an alarming rate, with up to a quarter of all adults infected in some African countries.”

The British Department for International Development said the funds given to UNFPA will be spent on male and female condoms, other methods of contraception, and drugs to treat sexually transmitted infections.

The department said the use of contraceptives has grown dramatically in the last 35 years, up from 10% of couples to around 60% of couples globally.

U.N. Arm-Twisting?

Pro-life advocates charge that the surge in demand for condoms in developing countries is due to aggressive promotion by U.N. agencies, western governments and pro-contraceptive non-governmental organizations.

UNFPA spokesman Ryan denied UNFPA had pressured poorer countries to promote condoms. “UNFPA is not dictating anybody's family size,” he said. “The aim of our aid is to help countries to meet the needs of their people.”

U.N. watchdog Ruse tells a very different story.

“[UNFPA] is not responding to requests for help,” he said. “It promotes abortion and contraception — it forces countries to accept the full 'reproductive rights’ package.”

Ruse cited events in early 2000 in Nicaragua, where senior government officials charged that UNFPA representatives withheld $11 million in aid money until the government softened its opposition to contraceptive programs.

“Their program ... was rejected by the government of Nicaragua and they withdrew all aid saying they had to accept reproductive rights or nothing,” Ruse said. “They forced their way in.”

Ruse, who traveled to Kosovo in 1999 to research UNFPA's alleged promotion of abortion and contraception there in the wake of the war with Serbia, told the Register, “They changed their story three times when asked about how they came to be involved in Kosovo.

“First we were told they were invited in. Next it was that they invited themselves and finally that they entered without permission.”

UNFPA officials have consistently denied that they are engaged in the promotion of abortion.

But other observers insist that the U.N. agency is becoming more open in its promotion of “reproductive rights” and “reproductive health,” terms coined by pro-abortion activists who interpret them to include access to on-demand abortion.

Jim Vittitow, education director of the Virginia-based Population Research Institute, cited an interview published by the UN Foundation's UN Wire news service last year with outgoing UNFPA Executive Director Nafis Sadik. Sadik said that she had been very successful at changing policies around the globe in areas of reproductive health, population issues, and family planning.

Sadik, who was succeeded Jan. by Thoraya Obaid of Saudi Arabia, led the UNFPA for 14 years.

In the UN Wire interview, Sadik said that when the U.N. agency started 29 years ago, few countries had family planning programs, but “now every country in the developing world has family planning as part of its health service, and today every country now has a reproductive health program.”

Sadik also admitted development aid is tied to population control, saying, “I think we've been able to make the consensus ... that population issues are part of developmental issues, that they're not separate, that they link with all facets of social life and economic and developmental life.

“Without pursuing social policies and social goals, you can't really have economic development.”

Population Control's Sins

Father Thomas Euteneuer, the president of Human Life International, counters that the UNFPA's pro-contraceptive policies are actually destroying developing countries — morally, physically and economically.

“The UNFPA, in soliciting funds for its campaign to distribute contraceptives in the third world, is committing a tri-fold sin,” Father Euteneuer told the Register.

“They are introducing the sin of contraception and its denial of God's plan for love and the family; they are force-feeding the Culture of Death and its inevitable products — disease, immorality, promiscuity, abortion, and the dissolution of the family — to uneducated, unsophisticated and innocent people; and they are robbing these countries of their single most important resource — people.”

Added Father Euteneuer, “This is what Pope John Paul II aptly calls ‘contraceptive imperialism.’ They export immorality, limit the developing world's most precious resource, and then lure its best minds away to fill the gaps left by their own failed population programs.

“Like one tiny cancer cell, the simple condom is the first step towards a deadly disease.”

Paul Burnell writes from Manchester, England.

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