International Planned Parenthood Universal access to Abortion; is this the future for the Solomon Islands? Part One

Current International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) have laid out a course of action to bring contraceptive use to 55% universally, in line with Millennium Development Goals, and to provide universal access to abortion regardless of religion, traditions or the reception of locals to IPPF philosophy.  This is a study of IPPF’s strategy and vision concerning the Solomon Islands who are in the early stage of IPPFs long term goal of universal access to abortion in the Pacific Islands.

What are International Planned Parenthood Federation?

IPPF has a membership of over 150 family planning association worldwide.  It has lobbied worldwide for the liberalization and eventual repeal of all laws that place any restrictions whatever on access to abortion (Sedlak:1997).  Although it has changed its rhetoric from  “the initiation and support of family planning services throughout the world” to less confronting terminology emphasising principles of “responsible parenthood” and concerns for the “health of families and young people” the IPPF primary objective is to provide family planning services including abortion on demand. (Vision 2000).

Echoing the positive rhetoric, the United Nations Economic and Social Council publish that IPPF;   “believe that improving the sexual and reproductive health of people will help them to lead socially and economically productive lives and take greater control over their own destinies”  (UNESCO:2004).  With these endorsements IPPF has been granted category 1 status within the United Nations Economic and Social Council and are tasked with promoting the UNESCO Plan  of Action chapter 15 as well as the Millennium Development Goals regarding maternal health and reproductive rights  (UNESCO:2004).    

The UNESCO International Conference on Population and Development Plan of Action sets out that; “Governments agreed that abortion should be safe where legal, but that it is up to nations to determine their own laws.  Governments also agreed that abortion should not “be promoted as a method of family planning.”(UNESCO:1994)  While there is no agreed definition of “as a method of family planning,” abortions in cases of rape, incest, and threat to the life or health of the woman should not be considered as belonging in this category.  Many reproductive health providers also consider that in making abortion readily available to women, they are not “promoting” abortion as a choice(Crane&Horn:2010).  The ICPD Programme of Action also endorses each individual’s right to determine the number and spacing of her children and to have the means to do so (United Nations, 1995a).  The view is expressed by UNESCO that exercising this right fully is impossible without access to abortion.” (Crane&Horn:2010)

With a central role in implementing MDG and UNESCO goals the IPPF are able to interpret these goals and implement their own strategy which is set out in documents such as IPPF Strategic Framework 2005 – 2015. In this IPPF outline a strategy to increase its own “provision of abortion services to the fullest extent permitted by law, with special attention to young women and under-served and marginalized groups.” (Framework:2005)IPPF will also provide abortion to adolescent girls as part of its “comprehensive youth-friendly high quality services.” programme.(Framework:2005) 

IPPF documents clearly state an agenda for legalisation of abortion in countries where the procedure is currently unlawful “IPPF and its member associations give special emphasis to maternal and child health and notably to the elimination of unsafe abortion, through information, advocacy and access to family planning and safe abortion services” (Vision 2000).

IPPF encourages members to “analyse, and advocate for changes in, restrictive national laws, policies, practices and traditions…” and encourages affiliates to “collaborate with other national organizations in promoting sexual and reproductive health services in an effort to bring pressure on governments to remove barriers to access (to abortion)” (Vision 2000).

An alarming aim of the IPPF is laid out in the 2010 – 2015 Framework is regarding abortion, IPPFs stated goal is to provide; “A universal recognition of a woman’s right to choose and have access to safe abortion.”(Framework:2005)  An international right to access abortion, could be an even more extensive right than the right to abortion with the implication that governments must pay for abortions, train doctors and set up abortion clinics to be in line with international requirements (Framework:2005).

The 2005 – 2015 Framework elaborate that; IPPF aim to continue its abortion “advocacy with governments, politicians, judiciary, health professionals and opinion-leaders to recognize, protect and fulfil these rights – either through legalization or decriminalization.”

Once legislative change is effected IPPF members will “inform women of their legal rights to safe abortion; provide access to safe abortion services; continually improve access to these services; and condemn incidents of any political administrative or social barriers curtailing this right.” (Framework:2005)  Where religious and cultural opposition stands in their way IPPF advocate; “enter into a dialogue with political, religious, and cultural opinion leaders to liberalise their attitudes toward safe abortion.” (Framework:2005).

Read Part Two of this article.

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