The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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America alone at population meet

New Delhi, Dec. 27: The US faced a rebuff at the recent International Conference on Population and Development in Bangkok when as many as 33 countries summarily vetoed American policies against abortion and adolescence reproductive health, which includes sex education.

US representatives wanted the conference to send out a message against all abortions and not just unsafe abortions.

It also wanted to delete any mention of adolescence reproductive rights on grounds of morality and to promote fidelity and abstinence as focal points of the campaign against HIV/AIDS.

The proposals, however, ended in nought with 33 countries voting in favour of the population conference’s resolution, Sri Lanka and Nepal abstaining and the US voting against it.

President George W. Bush’s “rightwing” proposals are aimed at rolling back health policies that have accepted abortion and adolescence reproductive rights as their key planks, according to officials in India’s Union health and family welfare ministry.

Officials here feel the US was trying to first test Asia’s response to rolling back these policies before pushing them through in Africa and Latin America.

The US would have got a shot in the arm had it managed to whittle down the resistance of Asian countries, they say. However, Asia stood fast in resisting these proposals, with even Iran opposing them, according to health ministry officials.

The ICPD held its last conference in Cairo in 1994. The resolution adopted at the 1994 meet influenced to a large extent India’s national population policy, which marked a clear departure from the narrow demographic target-oriented approach.

Population stabilisation in India is now sought to be achieved through an integrated reproductive and child health-care system.

“Because of the ICPD’s impact on population policies in this region, 35 countries except the US reaffirmed its principles and commitments,” said a statement by the health ministry.

The Bush administration’s stand at the Bangkok conference has sparked opposition in the US as well. Family planning organisations have accused the US of watering down an international agreement on reproductive health and rights.

Population Connection, one of these organisations, has alleged that the Bush administration is out of touch with the rest of the world and is hurting women by advocacy against abortion.

Another organisation, Planned Parenthood, has accused the Bush dispensation of undoing a decade of work on reproductive health and family planning agreements.

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