Beyond 2015 or Beyond Dignity? Civil Society Campaign Recommends Abortion in Development Agenda Despite Objections

In the second half of 2015, world leaders will finally decide what the priorities in the new development framework, called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will be. The SDGs will set measurable targets for every country in the world as a concerted global effort to eradicate poverty. In addition to that, this document will also decide how international funding devoted to development policies will be spent. The Sustainable Development Goals will replace the current Millennium Development Goals signed and agreed in the Millennium Declaration in 2000 and which are due to expire at the end of this year.

In light of this, civil society organisations from around the world embarked on a campaign to make their concerns, voices and interests heard. These efforts were finalized by the establishment of the Beyond 2015 Campaign that aims at affecting the final outcome of the negotiations to be concluded in September 2015. This special forum of various interest groups includes over 1,000 non-governmental organisations covering various aspects of development such as eradication of poverty, environmental protection, economic development and social issues. This forum became a battlefield of arguments among representatives promoting conflicting interests.

One of the strongest camps within the campaign was constituted by radical groups calling for recognition of “sexual and reproductive health and rights” (SRHR), which include abortion, as a human right vital for assuring equality between men and women. In reality, those groups, funded by abortion providers, attempt to put abortion at the centre of development policies, in order to safeguard sufficient funding for spreading abortion services in developing countries. Since the North American and European markets have long been almost fully open, abortion providers now seek to export their services to developing economies, using funds devoted to development aid and development policies.

Since it seemed obvious that abortion providers would want to use new Sustainable Development Goals in order to promote their services, WYA Europe decided to engage with the Beyond 2015 Campaign through its European Task Force in order to promote language respectful to human dignity. To achieve this aim, our representative decided to co-chair the special working group called ‘Human Development Based on Social Issues’, together with one of the strongest opponents of human dignity, International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). Ultimately, WYA Europe convinced the working group to replace the sexual and reproductive health and rights language with “sexual and reproductive health.”

Unfortunately, after deliberations in Europe were concluded, the SRHR language came back on the agenda of Beyond 2015 at the global level. Consequently, the recent document concluding the proceeding within the Beyond 2015 Campaign calls for ‘definitive commitment to the realization of women’s full legal, political, social and economic rights, including… full recognition of sexual and reproductive health and rights.’

With the release of this final document, WYA Europe has no other choice than to leave the European Task Force of the Beyond 2015 Campaign, while also rejecting the final document presented at the United Nations after three years of various consultations. It is our fervent hope that Member States gathered at the General Assembly of the UN will not adopt a final SDG document that prioritizes the investment of development aid funds for abortion care, provision, and lobbying efforts.