UN child summit deadlocked over 'reproductive health services'

 The Bush administration's delegation to the United Nations is continuing its efforts to roll back policy initiatives undertaken during the 1990s by the Clinton administration, the European Union, Canada, and other states, according to a report from the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. In this week's final preparatory meetings for the Special Session of the General Assembly on Children, to be held May 8-10 in New York, the American delegation is fighting to exclude language from the final document that it sees as recognizing the right of adolescents to abortion. Much of the American delegation's efforts have focused on the phrase 'reproductive health services.' In negotiations, the EU, Canada, and Latin American countries have sought to establish that children possess a 'right to reproductive health services.' But the American delegation say this is a euphemism for abortion. In June a Canadian delegate said: "of course it includes, and I hate to say the word, but it includes abortion." Since that comment was made, the US has insisted upon the removal of the term 'reproduction health services' from the final document, despite pressure from the EU to keep it. The negotiations are deadlocked on this point. Peter Smith, the UN representative of International Right to Life, said: "the US is doing a brilliant job. The delegation is following the administration's pro-life position wonderfully." He added, "The final document is to be called a 'A World Fit For Children'. The US believes that a world cannot be fit for children if it allows the world's most vulnerable children to be killed." The US delegation is also fighting against language to describe the family introduced during the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. At that time, the phrase 'various forms of the family' was introduced into the UN lexicon and is now also used by the EU. 'Pro-family' NGOs at the UN say this is an attempt to introduce homosexual marriage into international law. During the current negotiations, the US is seeking to delete a reference to 'various forms of the family.' Finally, the US is calling for: 'a different way to address all reproductive issues, which includes the recognition of the importance of sound value systems and the promotion of abstinence.' Negotiations on the final draft continue, with negotiators hoping to finish by tomorrow, when around 80 heads of state arrive for the final summit.

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