Getting Back On the UN’s Good Side

Yesterday, the United Nations Commission on Population and Development convened for the 42nd time at UN headquarters here in New York. The Head of the US delegation, Margaret J. Pollack, announced the US’s continuing support of the ICPD’s goals, “most particularly universal access to sexual and reproductive health, and the protection and promotion of reproductive rights.” She said that the US is committed to ensuring access to contraception and abortion, prenatal care and STI and HIV treatment.

Pollack cited Obama’s repeal of the Mexico City Policy—which had been re-instated by George W. Bush in 2001 and prevented NGOs who also discussed safe abortion from using government funds to provide family planning assistance in developing countries—as an example of America’s renewed commitment to global access to reproductive healthcare. (It actually seems to be a renewed commitment to the UN in general—Obama is seeking to have his cabinet represented in the Human Rights Council. Perhaps he is the anti-Bush!)

The conference was also a chance for China to report on the progress of their family planning initiatives that began in the 1970s. “At present, China has a total population of 1.328 billion,” said China’s Minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, Li Bin. “Without the implementation of the family planning policy, total population in China would have exceeded 1.7 billion in 2008."

But while China took the time to remind the international community of their success in life expectancy, lowered infant, child, and maternal death rates, and the rising average education levels, the US spent most of its time emphasizing the new administration’s devotion to family planning and women’s rights. Pollak said that the White House will join 66 other UN members to support a statement on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity” that was presented to the General Assembly in December.

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