Religious Extremism Cloaked in Diplomacy

October 5, 2012 • Family Planning, HIV/AIDS, Reproductive Health, Daily Email Recap

The following are excerpts from the website of Catholics for Choice. To read the full article, please click through to the link below.

Religious Extremism Cloaked in Diplomacy

Over the last 20 years, the Holy See has played an increasingly destructive role at the United Nations. Diplomats, policymakers and advocates alike have drawn attention to this role, but no solution has been forthcoming. The tension arises from the Holy See’s claim to statehood, which grants it special status at the UN, and its dogmatic views on the provision of reproductive healthcare services and the family—views that place it squarely in the way of policymakers who wish to guarantee rights and provide services to people around the world. While the debate about the Holy See’s status at the UN is not new, a resolution is available to those with the political and diplomatic will to seek it…

…The Holy See’s impact has been most painfully felt in the area of reproductive health, where it has used its prestige and resources to stymie attempts at the United Nations, state and local levels to provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare services. Often cloaked in language that seems to respect women’s needs, these obstruction tactics accomplish the exact opposite—without access to abortion, contraception and other basic services people die, and value systems that undermine women’s well-being are fostered. Policy resolutions that have been weakened by the Holy See’s objections flow into other legislative bodies as well. Dana Rosemary Scallon, a former member of the European Parliament, said in 2002 that the EU adopted language about reproductive health that made no reference to abor¬tion because of the UN Programme of Action the Holy See helped shape in 1994…

…Where the 1995 Beijing Declaration pledged to ensure the rights of women and girls as “inalienable,” the Holy See rejected this very premise, saying, “Surely this international gathering could have done more for women and girls than to leave them alone with their rights!”

The Holy See in Action: Doctrine and Division

The Holy See goes to great lengths to insert itself into UN processes dealing with reproductive health precisely so that women are not left alone with these basic rights. In 1994 the Vatican sent special envoys to Tehran and Tripoli to drum up support for the Holy See’s planned anti-reproductive rights stance at the forthcoming International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo—a collaboration with radical regimes that Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland likened to “sup[ping] with the devil.” Pope John Paul II also sent letters to every head of state worldwide warning that the wrong policy decisions at the conference could bring about an impending “moral decline resulting in a serious setback for humanity.”

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