Date: 9/14/94 12:54:14 PM

From: (Kathleen Watkins)

CHOICE-NET REPORT For Week ending September 3,


First, some numbers

93 million births worldwide this year

5.6 billion people on earth today

8.5 billion people on earth by 2025

20,000 conference attendees in Cairo

180 countries represented in Cairo

113 pages in conference draft report

There are more people now alive on the planet than have ever lived.

In Cairo, Egypt for the next week and a half, 180 nations and thousands of non-governmental organizations (NGO's) are meeting to discuss world population and development. Three preparatory meetings have led to a draft conference report which makes clear the connection between population rates and economic development. The nine-day International Conference on Population and Development, is the fifth world conference on population since 1954 and the third under the U.N. umbrella.

The current draft of the United Nations Conference Report on Population and Development calls for a "stabilization" of the world's population at 7.27 billion by the year 2050. The report calls for women to have the right to "terminate pregnancies in those cases where it is allowed by law". it also says that "in no case should abortion be promoted as a means of family planning".

During three preparatory conferences, delegates from 170 countries agreed on more than 90 percent of the plan for controlling population, including empowering women and ensuring that girls get equal access to education. (source: San Jose Mercury News, Planned Parenthood International)


On July 12 the Associated Press reported that "The United States will stand firm in its dispute with the Roman Catholic Church over the right of women around the world to have abortions."

Timothy Wirth, undersecretary of state for global affairs, said the Clinton administration will not back down in the face of Vatican opposition. "Clearly, the Catholic Church will never agree" with the U.S. position as expressed in the draft declaration," Wirth said. "That, however, is the policy of the United States of America, and it is one we will continue to pursue. "We also believe very strongly that women ought to have the choice about the size of their families and the spacing of their children, and we believe very firmly that women ought to be empowered in every way possible so that they might have the ability to make these decisions themselves."

Then suddenly on August 25, Al Gore made a speech to the National Press Club in which he insisted that every nation should decide for itself whether to permit abortion and access to contraceptives, and that the U.S. will *never* assert that a woman's right to choose an abortion should be an international human right. He then naively went on to declare that he thought consensus with the Vatican on the language in the draft declaration was possible.

What could have caused this shift in policy? Could it be the warning of U.S. Bishop James McHugh that unless the administration abandons its ardent support of abortion rights there will be ''a powerful incentive to American Catholics to walk away from the Democratic Party as well as the Clinton administration.''

Of course, the U.S. Bishops opposition to Clinton is nothing new. As Tony Coehlo, a senior adviser to the Democratic National Committee, noted, ''most of the leaders of the church opposed Clinton in the last election.'' Coehlo said, opinion surveys show that "the Catholic hierarchy has a great deal of problems with its own parishioners.''

Whatever the Clinton administration reason for the unnecessary overtures to the Vatican, the results at home may surprise them. Reproductive rights advocates have never been more disgusted with this administration. They are angry. If the right to control your own body is not a human right, they argue, then what is? The administration may be counting on the fact that the next election is a year and a half away and this anger will simmer down. But many stalwart political activists who worked hard to get Clinton elected are talking about putting their energy into getting women elected and letting the President fend for himself in the next election. Only time will tell.

(sources: Washington Post, AP)


Islamic lawyers sought to block the Cairo conference and a Jordanian federation urged that Egypt cancel the conference or risk ''turmoil and public anger.''

Fundamentalist lawyer Abdel-Halim Mandour, who brought the suit said he believes that just discussing the issues ''violates public morality and public modesty in violation of the (Egyptian) constitution and Islamic law.''

Sudanese Islamic leader Abdul-Galeel al-Karoury blasted population control proposals as ''a Zionist plot'' aimed at encouraging growth in Israel while depressing it in Islamic nations.

(source: Associated Press)