(NEW YORK — C-FAM) In a bid to make abortion widely legal in Africa, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and the UN Population Fund have been working diligently at the African Union (AU) for a continent-wide strategy that delivers “sexual and reproductive health services,” including “safe abortion.” IPPF and UNFPA have been key players in the drafting and promoting the controversial yet non-binding AU “Continental Framework on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights” (Framework) and another document called the Maputo Plan of Action both of which aim to implement “sexual and reproductive health and rights” into national health systems across Africa
In 2005, IPPF co-authored a draft of the Framework which calls on all AU states to “create an enabling environment for preventing unsafe abortion,” “promote the expansion of post-abortion care and the use of menstrual vacuum aspiration (MVA) techniques,” as well as “encourage a responsible debate to demystify taboos about abortion.”
IPPF’s financial statements show the organization spent $100,000 on the special session for African health ministers held in Maputo, Mozambique in September 2006, aimed at producing a 3-year plan to implement the Framework. The 3-year plan to implement the Framework became known as the Maputo Plan of Action. The Maputo Plan of Action includes proposed health program costs, targets and measures for abortion services, calling on states to “enact policies and legal frameworks,” to “prepare and implement national plans of action” as well as “refurbish and equip facilities for provision of comprehensive abortion care services.”
One of the ways abortion advocates assert the legitimacy of these two documents is by pointing out that they were discussed at meetings of national ministers of health and therefore have national backing. It is unclear who actually attended these meetings and critics point out that the decisions of health ministers do not necessarily bind governments.
The Maputo Plan of Action bears a similar name with yet another document called the Maputo Protocol which calls for legalized abortion. The Maputo Protocol is a legally binding document on states which have ratified it. So far this includes 21 of the 53 AU members. Future ratifications remain uncertain as controversy swells around the Protocol’s provision for legalized abortion on demand. At least one state that ratified the Protocol explicitly rejected this provision.
IPPF and UNFPA are hedging against stalled ratification by using a two-pronged approach to promote abortion on the continent. While they work to get more states to ratify the legally binding Protocol, they are insinuating abortion into health ministries by getting health bureaucrats to implement the non-binding Framework and Maputo Plan of Action both of which call for abortion.
UNFPA’s most recent program proposal, reported in last week’s Friday Fax, states that the Maputo Plan of Action will be “the focus of future activities” for the organization’s work in Africa. Calling the Plan of Action a model for other regions to emulate, UNFPA executive director Thoraya Obaid said “Now the real work begins on national implementation. We all stand ready to support Africa in this clear commitment.”