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Hillary Clinton at State Department Worries Veterans of UN Abortion Wars

By Piero A. Tozzi

(NEW YORK – C-FAM)  Pro-lifers are reacting with concern at President-elect Barack Obama’s selection of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. They see the appointment as foreshadowing a change of America’s United Nations (UN) policy with respect to the rights of the unborn.

Critics charge that Hillary Clinton had a major voice in the UN social policy of her husband’s administration that encompassed a number of major UN conferences. It was at the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing 1995) Clinton coined the phrase “women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights” that became a global rallying cry for a right to abortion.

While her husband spoke of abortion as something that should be “safe, legal and rare,” the on-the-ground efforts of his wife and Tim Wirth, a former US Senator who was Undersecretary for Global Affairs in the Clinton State Department, sought to broaden access to abortion.  Sometimes their work included what some see as dirty tricks. Wirth, who headed the US delegation at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, reportedly told Egyptian security officials that a certain pro-life activist was a terrorist, resulting in his arrest and detention.  Congressman Chris Smith intervened to secure the innocent man’s release.

Veteran pro-life lobbyist Jeanne Head, a fixture at the UN who attended the Beijing conference, expressed her concern to the Friday Fax that as Secretary of State, “Hillary would promote her husband’s agenda at the United Nations to make abortion a fundamental human right worldwide.”

Coupled with other incoming pro-abortion picks by the President-elect, like communications director Ellen Moran of Emily’s List, which raises money for pro-abortion candidates, and former NARAL Pro-choice America legal director Dawn Johnsen as a member of Obama’s transition team, critics question what happened to the new administration’s promised “common ground” on abortion.

Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America, the largest women’s public policy group in America, told the Friday Fax that Obama appears to be “peppering abortion proponents throughout his Administration.”

There is also concern over Obama’s nominee for ambassador to the UN, Susan E. Rice, who worked closely with Wirth when she was Bill Clinton’s Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.  Abortion advocates such as Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards have praised her selection. Rice’s published work indicates no open support of abortion, however.

One likely policy change concerns the promotion of “universal access to reproductive health” as a target under Millennium Development (MDG) Goal 5. The Bush administration has repeatedly pointed out that no such target, favored by abortion proponents, was agreed to by UN member states when they voted on the MDGs in 2000.

It is also expected that the US under Obama-Clinton will promote abortion at high level global conferences, in particular the “Beijing plus 15” conference scheduled for 2010 and next year’s fifteen-year review of the International Conference on Population and Development, known as “Cairo plus 15.”

Interest in these types of conferences by civil society proponents of abortion waned during the Bush years, as abortion advocates were concerned with losing ground. Now that the US is back in the abortion camp, it is expected they will work in close tandem with UN bureaucrats and the European Union to promote a right to abortion as well as radical understandings of homosexual rights.

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