Autumn Foster's Aug. 6 letter about the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is filled with baseless claims.
First of all, she utterly mischaracterizes the work done by Zero Population Growth (ZPG). We do not lobby for liberalization of abortion laws in any foreign country, but we do believe that abortion is a choice to be made by women in consultation with their families, doctors and religious advisers. In addition, ZPG does not perform abortions in this country or anywhere else in the world. Finally, we do not receive any financial support from UNFPA, the United Nations or any government agency.
Her conclusion about UNFPA's role in abortion is equally flawed. UNFPA does not provide abortion anywhere in the world. Ms. Foster's claim that the manual vacuum aspirators provided by UNFPA are for abortion is either purposely misleading or she is uninformed. Manual vacuum aspirators are a necessary tool used in the treatment of women who are suffering from miscarriages or from botched, often self-induced, abortions. Without the equipment provided by UNFPA, these women would bleed to death.
The real story about UNFPA's work is missing from her letter. UNFPA works to provide reproductive health care to refugees in Kosovo and other parts of the world. It is working to eliminate the horrific practice of female genital mutilation in the countries where it is practiced, and it has helped to provide women in the poorest countries of the world with access to family planning and reproductive health care that they would otherwise lack. The result is that there are fewer unintended pregnancies and fewer abortions.
BRIAN E. DIXON
Director of Government Relations
Zero Population Growth
To put the record straight regarding the United Nations Population Fund and abortion, UNFPA does not support abortion services or information anywhere, nor do we provide equipment for performing abortions. The reproductive health and safe motherhood kits provided in Kosovo contain only standard equipment, including vacuum aspirators, which are used to help in delivery.
Women do not want to have abortions; they want not to be pregnant. Every rational observer agrees that helping women avoid unwanted pregnancy is the most effective way to fight abortion. That is what UNFPA does.
The human right to choose the size and spacing of the family has been recognized internationally since 1968. Persistent misrepresentation of our work by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and his supporters only puts back the day when all women can exercise this right.
Chief of Media Services
United Nations Population Fund