05.20.22

Lankford, Lee Question World Health Organization Abortion Guidelines

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senators James Lankford and Mike Lee (R-UT) and Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO) led 52 other House and Senate colleagues in sending a letter to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), urging a reversal on the Organization’s recent guidelines on abortion.  These guidelines advocate for abortion on demand and critique conscious objections of healthcare providers.  The updated guidelines follow years of controversy regarding the role, allegiance, and effectiveness of the WHO.

The letter reads in part, “We, members of the US Congress, write to you today with concerns about the World Health Organization’s (WHO) dangerous new abortion guidelines. These extreme new guidelines aim to remove all legal and policy safeguards on abortion, impose restrictions on the conscience rights of health workers, and ignore the right to life and the safety of the mother and child.

“Moreover, we are astonished that the WHO is attempting to de-humanize preborn children and assert that the rights of the preborn do not exist by categorizing self-induced—and, in some cases, illegal—abortions as ‘self-care’ and demanding ‘the full decimalization of abortion’ without any gestational age limits. To categorize abortions as ‘self-care’ not only strips away the humanity and dignity of a preborn child but also contradicts international standards recognizing the preborn child as a rights-holding person,” the Members continued. 

You can find the full text of the letter HERE and below:

Dear Dr. Tedros, 

We, members of the United States Congress, write to you today with concerns about the World Health Organization’s (WHO) dangerous  new abortion guidelines. These extreme new guidelines aim to remove all legal and policy safeguards on abortion, impose restrictions on the conscience rights of health workers, and ignore the right to life and the safety of the mother and child.

While the WHO guidelines are not legally binding on any country, we are concerned that the organization is attempting to delegitimize the will of all sovereign nations by falsely asserting that abortion is a human right. This is far from an isolated instance of United Nations affiliates attempting to encroach on matters far out of their jurisdiction. Last November, for example, a United Nations special rapporteur attempted to interfere with domestic United States judicial proceedings by calling on our Supreme Court to adopt a specified outcome in the ongoing Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization case. In addition to blatantly ignoring the life of the preborn, such statements undermine the increasingly fragile trust globally in the concept of internationally recognized human rights while discrediting the United Nations’ legitimacy as a whole.

Moreover, we are astonished that the WHO is attempting to de-humanize preborn children and assert that the rights of the preborn do not exist by categorizing self-induced—and, in some cases, illegal—abortions as “self-care” and demanding “the full decriminalization of abortion” without any gestational age limits. To categorize abortions as “self-care” not only strips away the humanity and dignity of an preborn child but contradicts international standards recognizing the preborn child as a rights-holding person. Additionally, advocating for the termination of the life of a human being up to the point of birth is quite shocking and inhumane as a day, an hour, or even moments later, similar action against a child that has been born would constitute murder. Even in countries where early abortion is freely available, there are laws in place restricting abortions based on the preborn child’s gestational age. 

Furthermore, this guidance not only threatens the conscience rights of health care providers at all levels but treats individuals and institutions that object to abortion as obstacles. The WHO’s guidance states that “access to and continuity of comprehensive abortion care be protected against barriers created by conscientious objection” It continues further, stating “[i]f it proves impossible to regulate conscientious objection in a way that respects, protects and fulfils abortion seekers’ rights, conscientious objection in abortion provision may become indefensible.” Conscience protections are critical to prevent health care providers from being forced to take part in ending an innocent human life, thereby violating their ethical, moral, personal, or religious convictions. This radical stance reveals the WHO would rather cave to pressure from the abortion industry and force health care providers to choose between committing violence against an innocent baby and her mother, or be unemployed. This stance inevitably also threatens patient access to health care in geographic areas that are primarily served by faith-based health care providers as those who hold conscience objections would be deemed unfit for service.

We are also alarmed by the WHO’s recommendation that women and girls seeking abortion should be allowed to take abortion-inducing drugs without medical supervision. This policy is reckless and harmful to the well-being of women and girls, especially to those living in rural areas. While abortion activists incorrectly assert abortion drugs are safe, evidence-based data signals otherwise. Large-scale, peer-reviewed studies have shown women who take chemical abortion pills are significantly more at risk of serious complications and more likely to require a visit to the emergency room, while some women even die. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, abortion drugs have been linked to at least 24 maternal deaths, 1,045 hospitalizations, and over 4,200 serious complications between 2000 and 2021 in the United States.Encouraging the removal of medical oversight from abortion will not save lives but instead put more women and girls at risk of being targeted by illegal purveyors of abortion pills or provided with abortion drugs without consent. As such, the WHO guideline turns a blind eye to the harms of the abortion pill by providing support to those that enable abortion through the trafficking of black market abortifacients.

Every instance of abortion is a tragedy. Instead of advocating for greater access to abortion, the WHO should instead seek to address the root causes that motivate women to seek illegal abortions. This means promoting human dignity and preserving human rights for everyone, including the preborn. 

Given the WHO’s influence, this guidance will likely cause severe, irreversible harm, not only to US citizens but to women and children worldwide. For these reasons, we ask that the World Health Organization reverse course and retract the anti-life recommendations that it has promoted through the release of its 2022 abortion care guidelines.  

Sincerely, 

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