Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued updated guidance on maintaining essential health services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam) reports that the new WHO guidance, in contrast to the earlier WHO guidance from March 25, includes abortion explicitly. By wrongly describing abortion as “essential” health care, the powerful international organization sends the dangerous and inaccurate message that abortion is medically necessary and good for mothers and families.
In addition to including abortion in a section on “sexual and reproductive health services,” the document from WHO suggests that abortion should be made as widely available as possible to the full extent of the law. That an allegedly non-partisan, apolitical international health organization run through the United Nations would endorse abortion to the full extent of the law betrays the anti-Life biases at work in WHO.
Not only did the document endorse legal elective abortion, the new guidance seems to encourage illegal abortions. C-Fam notes that the updated document “encouraged the expansion of remote or telemedicine distribution of abortion drugs and attention to drug inventory to ‘meet the anticipated increase in need’ for abortions during the crisis.” Many parts of the world, including Texas, have fought to prevent dangerous telemedicine abortions and address holistic community needs to prevent skyrocketing abortions during a time of crisis and economic uncertainty.
Beyond suggesting an expansion of telemedicine abortion, WHO advocated “noninvasive medical methods,” meaning the dangerous abortion pill. Without outlining the serious risks to mothers from supplying the lethal abortion pill remotely, WHO suggests that making the abortion pill more widely available, likely even beyond the risky drug guidelines in place, the message is that the abortion pill is safe and necessary medication for mothers. Nothing could be further from the truth. The abortion pill endangers the mother, sometimes resulting in serious, life-threatening complications, and ends the life of her preborn child. Incredibly, in the interest of “reducing facility visits,” WHO even advocates “self-management approaches” for abortion. Dangerous, at-home, do-it-yourself abortions are never necessary and pose serious risks for all involved.
Although WHO has maintained the posture of being apolitical, looking at the response of anti-Life groups shows that they are clearly emboldened by the biased, anti-Life policies recommended by the WHO. For example, the anti-Life International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics tweeted, “New @WHO guidance on maintaining essential #healthcare services. Includes actions that countries can take to safely maintain access to high-quality, essential health services during #COVID19. #SRHR services including #abortion are ESSENTIAL.”
Following the guidance of organizations like WHO, France and England have already expanded telemedicine abortion, and anti-Life activists have stated that they hope the newly expanded, dangerous practices will continue long after the pandemic. Leah Hoctor, director of the extreme anti-Life group Center for Reproductive Rights in Europe, told the New York Times that she was happy to take advantage of the pandemic to “normalize” DIY abortions. She said, “The fact that these laws and policies were changed quickly in order to respond to the pandemic demonstrates that it is possible to modernize European countries’ abortion laws.” Risking mothers’ lives while ending their preborn children’s lives without adequate counseling and resources cannot be described as “modernizing.” Ironically, abortion activists often cite mothers’ health as a reason Pro-Life nations need to legalize elective abortion. Yet, as we have seen elsewhere, once abortion activists gain the upper-hand, their supposed concern for mothers’ health disappears and abortion before all else is the clear priority.
Shortly before the release of WHO’s updated, anti-Life guidance, Pro-Life President Donald Trump announced, “We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and directing those funds to other global public health charities.” Although the Trump administration’s decision to separate from WHO was ostensibly motivated by other factors related to the pandemic, severing ties with WHO will likely come to be part of President Trump’s Pro-Life legacy.