“Women Deliver” global maternal health conference

I was just reading about the “Women Deliver” conference. It sounds wonderful, and badly needed. Most of it.

Promoting the health of mothers and children is something that should naturally be a part of the pro-life cause. I mean, I shouldn’t even need to say that. We should be all over a conference like this. We should be holding it! And yet, it appears to be run by the type of advocates who consider expanding access to abortion — all abortions, not just those done out of medical necessity — as part and parcel of improving women’s health. It makes sense if you accept that women will always have abortions, and that the best that can be hoped for is to replace unsafe abortions with safe(r) ones.

Of course, people who consider abortion violence against a human child (not to mention violence directed toward the mother as well) can’t accept that, any more than death-penalty opponents can accept capital punishment as part of the agenda for reducing crime. But just as death-penalty opponents can work with proponents on crime-prevention measures such as improved policing, pro-lifers should be able to work with pro-choicers on improving womens’ access to medical care, safe delivery options, HIV prevention, family planning, and many other measures.

I say “should”, because I don’t believe it’ll actually happen. Too many pro-lifers seem to think that working with pro-choicers on anything is tantamount to being complicit in promoting abortion. And too many pro-choicers are unwilling to ever work on issues like women’s health and family planning without bringing abortion access in as part of a package deal.

There is a scheduled plenary session called “Working on Common Ground”:

Ensuring that women and newborns are healthy and are able to contribute their full potential is both a social and an economic investment. How can various disciplines and movements work together and advocate more effectively to realize this potential?

I think that would be a fine venue for promoting the idea that pro-lifers and pro-choicers ought to be able to work together on nonviolent means of improving women’s and children’s health, don’t you?

Of course, given the agenda of the “Addressing the Controversies in Reproductive Health and Rights” plenary:

1994 ICPD marked a paradigm shift in population policy to a woman-centered, reproductive health and rights approach. It also led to controversy. This plenary will examine four areas where action has not matched international commitments:

* Are religion and culture positive or negative forces in influencing reproductive health policy?
* Do young people have a right to access a full range of reproductive health services as well as information?
* How best can the public health goal of eliminating unsafe abortion be achieved?
* Are women’s rights human rights?

…well, my hopes aren’t high.

(And damn it, I hate that the term “reproductive health and rights” throws up red flags for me, because reproductive health and rights are vitally important! Access to medical care, choice in childbirth, contraception, the right to be educated about how one’s own body works, the right to be free from sexual violence and coercion — it’s a tragedy that so many women, hell, probably most women, don’t have these things. And yet, and yet, and yet… the violence of abortion always creeps in. As if we can’t even imagine our lives free of pain, free of violence, free of destruction.)