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U.N. child summit produces victory, pro-family groups say

WASHINGTON (BP)–The United Nations’ recent summit on children resulted in a victory for families, pro-life and pro-family organizations said.

The final document adopted at the U.N. Special Session on Children excluded language that would have affirmed abortion for minors. It also did not undermine the traditional family, pro-family groups said.

There had been strong pressure to include abortion rights for children in the statement, but the United States, the Vatican and some Muslim countries resisted.

“This was a great victory for the pro-life movement throughout the world,” said Jeanne Head, U.N. representative for the National Right to Life Committee. “We are pleased that the Bush administration, other pro-life states and the Holy See held fast to the goal that nothing in the document could be construed to approve of abortion.”

The United States and its allies turned back an attempt to incorporate the phrase “reproductive health services” in the final document. A member of the Canadian delegation had admitted the phrase included abortion services.

While the document did not forbid abortion, a United States official said it was not necessary. “The language is general enough so it doesn’t suggest that abortion is appropriate for children,” the official told The New York Times. “We have a consensus document that meets U.S. concerns.”

Supporters of abortion expressed some disappointment with the document.

“With respect to child rights and adolescent health and reproductive rights, it is an extremely weak document,” said Adrienne Germain, president of the International Women’s Health Coalition, The Times reported.

The United States, however, failed to gain adoption of abstinence as the standard for sex education for children. The final version also did not define the family as a married man and woman, a position the U.S. delegation espoused, according to The Times. The document recognized “various forms of family.”

The Bush administration, however, said in its interpretive statement it believes the family to be based upon marriage between a man and a woman, according to the Family Research Council. Janice Shaw Crouse of Concerned Women for America told CNSNews.com that “various forms of family” does not necessarily cover homosexual couples.

The United States also said it would oppose attempts at future U.N. conferences to advance abortion rights or to undermine the traditional family.

FRC President Ken Connor called the success a “vital first step” but said “many more steps need to be taken.”

“While pro-family forces should savor this victory, we must be vigilant that the strong pro-family, pro-life position is advanced by the administration and its allies at future conferences,” Connor said.

The European Union led the opposition to the United States and others on the abortion and family issues at the May 8-10 summit. Among the Islamic countries allied with the United States and the Vatican in supporting pro-life language were Iran, Pakistan and Sudan, according to CNSNews.com.

In other U.N. news, the United States won back a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Commission in late April after losing it the year before. The election means the United States will return to the commission for three years beginning in January, according to the Associated Press. Before last year’s defeat, the United States had served on the panel since its inception in 1947.

China, Ukraine and Zimbabwe also were added to the commission. Human rights activists said the inclusion of the three countries will intensify problems in dealing with abuses, AP reported. All three have poor human rights records. China was re-elected to the commission, while Ukraine and Zimbabwe were elected to the panel at the same time.

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