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UNICEF, WHO Want ' Alliance' with Church but Promote Abortion

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How would UNICEF and OPS/WHO explain their abortion advocacy to the Church representatives from throughout Latin America?

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By Steven W. Mosher
Population Research Institute (
4/15/2009 (1 decade ago)

Published in Americas

FRONT ROYAL, Va. (Population Research Institute) - When the director of our Latin American office, Carlos Polo, received information about the upcoming "Pastoral Meeting about Children and Adolescents at Risk," organized by the Latin American Bishop's Conferences (CELAM), he decided to attend. He was concerned about the forthcoming appearance of speakers from UNICEF and the Pan-American Organization for Health (OPS), which is a member organization of the World Health Organization (WHO).

How would UNICEF and OPS/WHO explain their abortion advocacy to the Church representatives from throughout Latin America who had gathered from the March 23-27 event? Would they try hide their activities, or would they actively work to compromise the Church's pro-life position. Polo was determined to find out.

Both UNICEF and OPS, it turned out, sang from the same hymnal. Both proposed a "strategic alliance" with the Catholic Church. Both spoke of the "re-launching" of a "promising" joint partnership between their Church and their organizations. This "tripod" of "strategic partners"--UNICEF, OPS, and the Catholic Church--could do much good, they averred.

Few of those present in the audience objected. Some of those attending, Polo knew, were aware of the involvement of these organizations in abortion and birth control around the world. Most, however, were ignorant. How could the priests and religious in attendance, who live and work with poor children in their communities, be expected to know about the moral issues that would arise if they agreed to work with these organizations? How could they be aware of the dangers of taking money from organizations that would then expect them to compromise on key teachings of the Church?

The UNICEF and OPS representatives, for their part, were careful not to tip their hands. There were a couple of offhanded references to "reproductive health" in their proposed "partnerships" with the Church, but nothing that would arouse suspicion in the uninitiated Church leaders present. The speakers carefully avoided subjects like abortion, the morning-after pill, and feminist ideologies where the policies of their organizations run counter to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

In order to help the Latin American Bishops Conferences make an informed decision on the proposed "strategic alliance," Polo decided to interview both speakers: Dr. Oscar Suriel, the International Consultant on Family Health and Community of OPS, and Dr. Manuel Manrique Castro, who introduced himself as an officer of long experience with UNICEF. Both agreed to be interviewed on camera.

When Polo asked Dr. Suriel about OPS/WHO 's blatant promotion of abortion, he at first flatly denied that his organization was involved in these activities.

Unfortunately for him, Polo had OPS documents proving otherwise. According to OPS, it had been one of the players to pressure the Nicaraguan government to reinstate so-called "therapeutic abortion."

At this point, Suriel changed his story. "OPS supports therapeutic abortion," he claimed, "but not abortion 'per se'."

This is a distinction without a difference, Polo told him. It is by now widely known, and not just inside the Church, that "therapeutic abortion" is a contradiction in terms. It is nothing more than a semantic dodge used to slip abortion past existing laws proscribing it.

Polo went on to point out that "OPS supported Mexico City's abortion law, which legalizes the practice for pregnancies up to 12 weeks gestation." He then asked a key question: Would OPS/WHO be willing to relinquish its promotion of abortion in order to partner with the Church?

Suriel indicated that it would not revise or revoke any of its anti-life activities or positions. Instead, he told Polo that he was the one with a problem. "If you actually had to walk the road," he said, "you would perceive these matters differently." In the end, he said, "what matters is to save lives."

Polo repeated his question: Would OPS/WHO be willing to abandon its abortion agenda in order to facilitate an alliance with the Catholic Church?

"You're talking to me about dissent," Suriel responded, "and I am talking about consensus. On no issues do we disagree with the Catholic Church."

Since we obviously disagree with OPS/WHO on a whole host of issues, beginning with abortion, sterilization, and contraception, it is obvious that it was Suriel was retreating to a position of knee-jerk denial.

In the interview with Dr. Manrique, the UNICEF representative, Polo asked him what he thought about the Holy See's inquiry into UNICEF for its involvement with the abortion and reproductive health.

Manrique tried to downplay the issue, saying that "these were small contingencies that are of little importance" and that they were "not deep issues."

Polo disagreed, noting that UNICEF's official web site contains an order form for suction abortion machines.

Manrique was taken aback by this information, and initially said that he didn't believe it. At this point Polo showed him proof taken from UNICEF's own website, that the organization was involved in the pucharse of thousands of abortion machines. That is, UNICEF made an estimate of purchase, in October 2007, for a total of 5850 abortion machines, some operated by pumps and others operated by motors.)Manrique was taken aback by this information. He explained that he had heard about UNICEF be involvement in the purchase of abortion machines, but had dismissed it as an unsubstantiated rumor.

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Then Polo brought up UNICEF's support of "therapeutic abortion" in Nicaragua and Mexico. Manrique responded that, while individuals associated with UNICEF supported this move, UNICEF as an organization had not.

This is not a credible defense, since the signature of the UNICEF representative, as well as the organization's logo, is available on public documents concerning the matter.

Even more incredible was Manique's distortion of the Church's teaching on condoms. UNICEF ceaselessly promotes condoms among teens, supposedly for AIDS prevention. Manrique claimed that the Catholic Church was not officially opposed to the use of condoms, and gave examples of bishops who support their use in such cases. He referred specifically to the Secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia and to a number of Brazilian Bishops.

Polo asked whether Pope Benedict XVI, who has unswervingly stated the Church's official opposition to condoms, was not the official voice of the Church.

"That's what you say," Manrique responded.

No sooner had the cameras stopped rolling than both Manique and Suriel began harshly criticizing Polo, demanding that he not publish these interviews.

This only strengthened our resolve to publish the damaging information that we had discovered on their official websites, as well as their denials and equivocations about the hard facts of their organizations' support of abortion and other evils.

"Don't you know how much money would be lost if this collaboration is not carried out?" Suriel finally demanded. To us, it sounded a lot like these UN organizations were trying to bribe their way into the good graces of the Catholic Church. Does the phrase, "Trojan Horse," occur to anyone?

Neither organization really understands the nature of the Church's work. At best, they are simply recruiting social workers--who work cheaply or simply for free--into the service of a secular health organization. At worst, they are trying to undermine the Church's position on abortion by co-opting as many of the Church's workers, priests, and bishops as they can.

Let us not be deceived.


PRI is a 501(c)(3) educational organization. We work to reverse the trends brought about by the myth of overpopulation. Our growing, global network of pro-life groups spans over 30 countries. To date, we have successfully eliminated $790 million in U.S. tax dollars to International Planned Parenthood, UNFPA, and other anti-life aboritionists while redirecting much of this to family friendly programs like Child Survival.

See our current project.

Donate now to directly affect the lives and well-being of mothers and children around the world.

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