|U.S. Gets Assurance on Kids Conference|
U.S. Gets Assurance on Kids Conference
Associated Press, August 29, 2001
By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press Writer
UNITED NATIONS—The head of the UN Children's Fund says she can assure President Bush that next month's children's summit will not support abortion—and she's still hoping he'll take part in the conference along with more than 75 other world leaders.
"The (conference) document doesn't refer to abortion," Carol Bellamy said in an interview Tuesday. "This is a document about health of kids, education of kids, child protection, child soldiers, child labor, HIV/AIDS."
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the Bush administration wants to ensure that language in the final document "does not support or advance the idea of abortion."
Delegates from over 100 countries are meeting at the United Nations this week to iron out disputes over language in the document, a process Boucher insisted is part of a regular give and take.
"We have every expectation that we can work them out, and that we can be there, and that we will be there at a high level," Boucher said, adding that it would be a Cabinet-level delegation.
The General Assembly Special Session, to be held Sept. 19-21 in New York, is a follow-up to the 1990 World Summit for Children where nations made commitments to specific goals on child survival, protection and development. This year's gathering will review progress made and tackle emerging issues such as AIDS orphans, disarming child soldiers, eliminating trafficking in children and ending child labor.
Bellamy said the United States has played "a very major role" in promoting the 1990 agenda, "so I hope now that they will help play a major role in moving this agenda, which is going to build on the last 10 years."
In closed-door negotiations, the US delegation has expressed concern that references to "reproductive health services" in the draft final document are code words for abortion.
But advocates say the US fears are unfounded.
"This is language that the US provided leadership in crafting," said Françoise Girard of the International Women's Health Coalition.
The change in US position, she said, is a "clear indication of what the agenda of this administration is both abroad and in this country."
Bellamy said there have been references to "reproductive health services" in UN documents for years-from the declarations at UN world conferences on population, poverty and women to material put out by UNICEF and the World Health Organization.
"Abortion isn't part of anything that UNICEF has been involved in," she stressed. "We don't recommend it. We don't engage in it. We don't offer it. We don't tell people they should have it."
Copyright, 2001, Associated Press. Reprinted with permission.