The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has released recently a report, Reducing Poverty and Achieving the Millennium Development Goals: Arguments for Investing in Reproductive Health & Rights. LifeSite notes that the report argues that “sexual and reproductive health services,” UN-speak for abortion, contraception, and sterilization, are necessary to improve child poverty, HIV/AIDS, and ecological sustainability, not to mention women's mortality rates and general economic development.
The argument goes thus: One-third of all deaths and disabilities of women of child bearing age and one-fifth of global health costs are related to sex (sexually transmitted disease and complications during pregnancy and childbirth), which reduces incrementally the productivity of the female labor force. "Voluntary fertility decline" will therefore enhance economic growth and reduce the global health burden (including health-related welfare costs). Additional alleged benefits include saving women's lives (not including aborted girls, I guess), curbing the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and allowing young women to "break the cycle of poverty" and "empower them to be agents of change." (Hkkkktt - hrkrkrkt - thu - thu - pthhhht - Sorry, I think I hacked up a hair ball on that last part).
This all sounds so Reasonable, as Holy Fool would put it. Except that these "benefits" don't necessarily follow. I have noted previously the misguided approach advocated to contain the spread of HIV. There is also a new book, Against Christianity: The UN and the European Union as a New Ideology by Eugenia Roccella and Lucetta Scaraffia that shows no change, in the past decade, in the number of women who die during childbirth in poor countries - more than half a million per year - because the primary method for reducing death from childbirth is simply to reduce the number of births and increase the number of abortions, rather than improve the healthcare of mother and child. (See more on this book at Chiesa).
The whole economic growth assertion can be called into question as well when considering the amounts and different forms of aid given to Third World nations for years with little progress. We are not looking at a tipping point where only if women increased their collective productivity by a little bit there would be the emergence of new nations abundant in milk and honey with all things sweetness and light. At root is connectedness - cultural, economic, political, and security - or lack thereof, as John Paul the Great noted in Centesimus Annus. Fostering a separation between sexuality and procreation certainly is not going connect the disconnected.
The bright side, if there is one, which isn't even that bright, is that for the fourth year in a row, the US has denied payment of the $34M previously given to the UNFPA precisely because of its anti-life policies. And so we remain vigilant.