Pro-Lifers Temporarily Block Alliance Between WHO and Abortion Extremists

By Rebecca Oas, Ph.D.

Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam)—The World Health Organization (WHO) has put off a decision to admit a radical pro-abortion organization into official relations and launch a three-year collaboration.  The proposed partnership with the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) drew sharp criticism from a coalition of pro-life groups led by C-Fam (publisher of the Friday Fax) that called upon the WHO Director-General to reconsider the alliance.

The letter pointed out that partnering with the abortion litigation group would compromise the UN’s health organization’s integrity and expose it to increased risk of the withdrawal of U.S. funding under a future pro-life administration.

CRR has been at the forefront of pushing for an international right to abortion since the 1990s, and has claimed credit for the liberalization of national abortion laws in Ireland and other countries.  After attempts to create an international human right to abortion failed at major international conferences in 1994 and 1995, CRR conspired with UN agencies and independent experts working for the UN’s human rights office to insinuate a right to abortion into international human rights treaties.  None of the UN’s nine core human rights treaties mention abortion, either directly or euphemistically.

As noted in the open letter, a 2003 CRR internal strategy document leaked to C-Fam laid out the organization’s intentions to use the UN’s human rights mechanisms and agencies to pressure countries on abortion, despite the fact that the General Assembly repeatedly denied abortion is a human right.

The coalition letter included a variety of pro-life and conservative organizations that work at both a national and international level.  The letter argues that CRR “proved incapable of providing accurate legal information and has repeatedly compromised scientific evidence in its advocacy materials in favor of its preferred policy outcomes.”

Nevertheless, CRR’s collaboration with the WHO is not new.  In the document outlining the proposed formal partnership, the WHO executive board credits CRR with “advancing WHO’s work on reproductive health Catholic CPA for you -and rights” by carrying out advocacy “in alignment with WHO’s recommendations, standards and public health messages.”

CRR’s alignment with WHO recommendations is no coincidence. When the WHO issued its 2022 guideline on abortion, it credited CRR’s associate director of global advocacy as the “human rights adviser” to the guideline’s development group.  The chair of the group was the associate medical director of an affiliate of Planned Parenthood, an abortion provider and advocacy group.

Following the release of the guideline, the European Centre for Law and Justice documented the number of abortion activists who were involved in the drafting of the WHO’s guidance, which they would then proceed to use in their advocacy work.  Similar concerns are being raised about a forthcoming WHO guideline on transgender medicine, which has numerous activists known for promoting extreme positions on its development group.

For the WHO to formalize its collaboration with CRR would be only the latest step in its alignment with the most radical “sexual rights” activists.

CRR also advocates for other controversial issues apart from abortion, including gender ideology and comprehensive sexuality education, and have used a similar strategy of using UN human rights experts and agencies to promote these issues under the banner of human rights.

The WHO executive board has postponed its decision on CRR until its meeting in May 2024.


The Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam) is a community of public policy professionals that bring interdisciplinary research and analysis to inform the international social policy debate. Since its founding in New York in 1997, C-Fam remains the only pro-life and pro-family organization working exclusively on international social policy.

C-Fam conducts, promotes, and publishes legal and policy research analyzing timely issues in international relations, development and humanitarian assistance, law, medicine, political philosophy, and security studies.

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