Catholics bring pro-life voices to the UN Commission for Women

.- As participants in the UN Commission for Women’s annual gathering advocated for increased international access to abortion, side events hosted by the Vatican and other Catholic groups presented a pro-life perspective on women’s empowerment at the UN.

The ten-day international meeting in New York March 11-22 included debate as to whether this year’s final document will include “universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights,” as a part of the commission’s “agreed conclusions,” as it did last year.

The topic of the commission’s 63rd session this year is “access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.”

For some at the UN meeting, access to public services means access to abortion.

“It’s a crime to prevent a woman from having access to abortion,”  said French Minister of Gender Marlene Schiappa at an event at the UN headquarters March 13.

Obianuju Ekeocha, president of Culture of Life Africa, said that her “head almost exploded” when she heard this.

She added that in her view, the UN Commission for Women’s annual gathering is “the heart of the pro-abortion movement.”

“The meetings that I have gone to … the people I have listened to speak right here at the United Nations, [for them] there is no room for compromise,” Ekeocha said in a video statement.

“They want abortion to be legal. They want it to be legal in every country in every situation,” she added.

Ekeocha said she attended a UN event in which an abortionist-midwife demonstrated how she trains other abortionists in developing countries. The UN event was entitled “All united for the right to abortion.”

During the week of the commission meeting, a screening of Ekeocha’s documentary, “Strings Attached,” was streamed at the Nigerian Mission to United Nations on March 12. The documentary uncovers “ideological colonization” of contraceptives and abortion into African countries and gives voice to African women who are suffering its effects.

Pro-life advocate Lila Rose spoke on the topic “Motherhood is a gift” at UN side event co-hosted by the Holy See Mission to the UN and C-Fam, entitled “Protecting Femininity and Human Dignity in Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality Policies Today.”

The Holy See Mission to the UN sponsored five side events addressing issues that affect women, from human trafficking to protections for women and girls with Down syndrome.

In conjunction with the Catholic Women’s Forum, the Holy See helped to organize an event on “Valuing Unpaid Work and Caregiving.”

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations said at the event that there has been a presumption in the United Nations that “a person’s work outside the home is far more valuable than a person’s work inside the home.”

Auza questioned whether “a prioritization of a person’s work in the labor markets over care work at home flows from woman’s deepest desires or whether it’s an emulation of a flawed, hyper-masculine, way of looking at the world, one in which work, and what work can provide, is treated as the most important value.”

“No women who desires to give of her time in this way should be stigmatized by society or penalized in comparison to other women or to men. Work schedules should be continuously adapted so that if a woman wishes to work she can do so without relinquishing her family life or enduring chronic stress,” he said. “Rather than having her readjust everything to the rules of the marketplace, the marketplace itself should be adjusted to what society recognizes is the enormous personal and social value of her work.”

“Humanity owes its very survival to the gift of caregiving, most notably in motherhood, and this indispensable contribution should be esteemed as such, by both women and by men,” Auza said.


Nearly 2 million attend March for Life in Argentina

Pro-life rally in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 23, 2019. (Credit: Facebook Marcha por la Vida.)

ROME – Nearly two million people marched on Saturday in Pope Francis’s native land of Argentina in pro-life demonstrations dedicated to defending the life of the unborn, and offering solutions to mothers in crisis pregnancies.

The rally was organized by Argentina’s March for Life, a lay-led organization. Although Catholic bishops, evangelical pastors, and Jewish and Islamic leaders participated, they were not involved in the organization of the event, which took place in more than 200 locations across the country.

The movement doesn’t have a political affiliation, either. In fact, the only political message issued from the stage was a warning to Argentine politicians: Abortion will be an issue in the upcoming presidential elections, and those who were out in the streets won’t vote for candidates who support overturning Argentina’s pro-life laws.

The other thing close to a political note of the rally was the presence, on stage in the country’s capital Buenos Aires, of a group of veterans from the 1980’s Falklands War, the only armed conflict in Argentina’s recent history.

“We’re all ordinary people, but at a moment in life we’re called to do extraordinary things for the nation. We defended both islands. Today, we’re here, as soldiers, to implore that we defend both lives, to save the nation,” their spokesman said.

Buenos Aires drew the largest crowd, with more than 300,000 people marching across the capital. Aerial footage showed that at one point, the column of people was more than one mile long.

Though the rally had been planned well in advance, the city government provided no security for the event, and neither did the national government. However, several participants told Crux that “seeing the climate of joy and celebration, it would have been a waste of resources.”

Some did, however, regret the fact that there were very few traffic police to make sure that those walking were safe from traffic, and in several instances cars could be seen among the crowd.

The city of Buenos Aires is governed by Horacio Larreta, who belongs to the party of President Mauricio Macri, who last year allowed Congress to debate the legalization of abortion for the first time in a decade.

According to Carolina Brown, one of the organizers of Saturday’s rally, there was a “palpable spirit of celebration, of joy, with families rallying together, as well as an overwhelming presence of young people.”

The latter, she said, wasn’t the case last year, but “seeing that young people are the ones who will have to continue fighting, seeing them come out in numbers, joining friends, is a reason for hope.”

During “march season,” Brown has a key role: Making sure that the people in the street find out about the event, as they have little support from Argentina’s major media outlets, and not everyone has access to social media.

“But Argentina, culturally, is pro-life, so when we’re out in the streets with the light blue handkerchiefs that represent the pro-life movement, many approach us, ask for information, ask for a handkerchief for themselves,” she told Crux on Sunday.

According to Brown, the narrative and attitude of the pro-abortion groups in the country “helps us a lot” because “Argentina is pro-life.”

“I’m very thankful, as an Argentine, of the response the convocation received, and also of the country I belong to: the Argentine people is expressing itself in the defense of life,” she said.

Pictures from the different rallies across the country show people holding signs calling for the state to “save them both,” people claiming to be “agnostic, leftist, pro-life,” “with abortion I won’t vote you,” “pro-life generation” and “lesbians for life.”

In different shapes and forms, the rally has been taking place every year since 1998, when the country declared March 25 to be the Day of the Unborn Child, but the participation and visibility has grown exponentially in the past two years, after the strong effort to legalize abortion.

Abortion today is illegal in Argentina, though there’s a protocol adopted by some states that allows for the practice when the pregnancy is the result of rape, or the life of the mother is at risk.

According to Alejando Geyer, one of the organizers of the rally, the event took place this year for three reasons: “Everyone’s right to be born, the right of families to educate their children without gender ideology, and the need to raise awareness of the fact that in our country, particularly during this year of elections, we define the future of the country, of the family, and of millions of unborn children.”



Widespread opposition to Relationships and Sex Education changes

Photo by Cathy Yeulet

The majority of respondents to a recent Government consultation oppose plans to teach children as young as five about homosexuality and transgenderism.

More than 11,000 people responded to the consultation, with 58 per cent saying the proposed content for Relationships Education in primary schools was not “age-appropriate”.

Even more, 64 per cent, said the same about Relationships and Sex Education in secondary schools.


Education Secretary Damian Hinds pushed ahead with the controversial plans last week, despite the “large number” of consultation responses objecting.

Withdrawal from the teaching of LGBT relationships was a particular concern for many respondents, with three in five opposing the plans to weaken parents’ rights to withdraw their children from the lessons.

Respondents also raised concerns about the objectivity of resources being recommended for primary schools, but the plans are set to go ahead with only minor alterations.

Parents, grandparents and teachers made up around half of the responses.


The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director for Public Affairs Simon Calvert said: “We are greatly encouraged by the high number of responses and the level of opposition to the plans.

“It’s appalling how the Government has sought to downplay these contributions and in fact the only changes they made after the consultation have made these plans worse.

“People should be ready to mobilise in the months ahead.”

The new guidelines are set to come into force from September 2020.