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Pandemic as an excuse for promoting medical abortion. The Ordo Iuris analysis of UN actions

Published: 20.04.2020

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Despite the ongoing pandemic, UN agencies continue to promote abortion. According to WHO and the United Nations Population Fund, the protection of ‘reproductive and sexual rights’ is key to combating the effects of the spreading of the coronavirus. A humanitarian crisis prevention plan, signed by the UN General-Secretary, includes similar statements. International bodies use the current situation mostly to promote medical abortion. This is in line with the narrative that was present in the previous UN acts, in which, among others, some abortive substances were recognised as ‘essential medicine’. Ordo Iuris Institute has prepared an analysis on this matter.




As part of combating the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, for the past few weeks the UN has also been working on implementing their ideological demands. This is noticeable in the numerous documents published by WHO and UNFPA – UN health and population agencies. In addition to the indisputable recommendations concerning, among others, the strengthening of the healthcare system, these documents include numerous references to ‘reproductive and sexual rights’, including abortion. According to the authors, allowing abortion to the broadest extent possible during the pandemic is of the same importance as, for example, the protection of pregnant women.


Moreover, agencies and their specialised units (e.g. HRP – Human Reproduction Programme) postulate to promote medical abortion during the pandemic as much as possible. As Antonella Lavelanet, a WHO representative, explains, medical abortion, even without medical supervision, should be presented to women as the best solution, especially in places where access to abortion is limited for various reasons. The promotion of medical abortion – even up to the 24th week of pregnancy – is nothing new for WHO. Last summer, the agency issued a document which explicitly identifies this method as the most desirable form of abortion. Apart from that, the document also stated that medical abortion is a form of self-care. Almost at the same time, WHO has entered two abortive substances on the ‘essential medicines’ list.


Similar theses can be found in the Global Humanitarian Responsive Plan COVID 19 – a strategy signed by the UN General-Secretary, António Guterres. The document indicates that, among others, it is necessary to provide every person affected by the humanitarian crisis with a Minimum Initial Service Package in the field of ‘reproductive and sexual health’. According to the technical document issued under the UN auspices in 2018, titled ‘The Inter-Agency Field Manual on Reproductive Health in Humanitarian Settings’, to which this strategy refers, these services are also to include abortion.


‘Taking into account the documents and recommendations released by WHO and UNFPA, it is hard to resist the impression that the crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic is a pretext to intensify the actions aimed at imposing on countries the solutions that violate fundamental human rights. Promotion of medical abortion results in the violation of the applicable laws in countries that prohibit it in principle, such as Poland. This activity is much more difficult to prosecute, which is intensively exploited by the pro-abortion organisations’ – emphasises Karolina Pawłowska, Director of the Centre of International Law of Ordo Iuris Institute.

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