Who is WHO?
To say that the World Health Organization (WHO), which is “the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system,”[i] doesn’t reflect Catholic moral principles is an understatement.
WHO’s global health agenda includes obtaining for adolescents and young people “the sexuality and reproductive health education they need in their schools and communities, and sexual and reproductive health services they need from health facilities in their communities” as the tool they need to prevent “unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and STIs including HIV infection.”[ii]
As articulated above, this onerous – and presumptuous – global “agenda” only scratches the surface of what WHO and its supporter’s actually are arranging for humanity. WHO believes its job is to prevent adolescent pregnancies not only though “reproductive health education” and “services” but also through “feasible legal, social and economic measures.” Teaching young women “how to avoid a pregnancy,” and “obtain contraceptives, including emergency contraception,” may not be sufficient as, in some societies, young women still desire children. Reeducation – reiterating the propaganda that “early pregnancy contributes to poor health in mothers and babies…result[ing] in social and economic costs to young mothers, their families and communities” – and importing “outside incentives to delay fertility” are part of the package.[iii]
The 2012 Family Planning Summit in London – a creature of the British government, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and various other organizations including WHO – raised $2.6 billion for family planning programs and “to strengthen women’s rights to ease their access to contraception.”[iv] WHO’s comments about the Summit, and its own role in realizing the Summit’s goals, emphasized that it is “committed to fast-track its assessment of new and existing quality contraceptives so more women in low- and middle-income countries can obtain and use a broader range of safe and effective contraceptive products.”[v]
Marching with the Enemy
Whatever else one might say about WHO and its goals for the world, they are not reflective of Catholic moral sensibilities.
And yet on April 7, 2013 – the anniversary of WHO’s founding – the Catholic Health Association of the United States saw fit “to reflect on how we as Catholic health ministry share in its vision of a world where health is a fundamental human right.” It lauded WHO as an organization that “speaks to a strong sense of social purpose and a constitution containing a series of health-related principles regarding the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental human right—that the common pursuit of better health could build societies that are more equal, more just and more secure.” (emphasis added) [vi]
This position of public praise and celebration was then disseminated by the Sisters of Charity, [vii] who run a system of local Catholic health care facilities. One would like to dismiss this as an act of ignorance but at least some of the Sisters of Charity have demonstrated a perverse disregard for Church teaching when it seemed in their self-interest to do so.
For instance, Barbara Hagedorn, SC, representing the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati (Mt. St. Joseph , Ohio), signed a media statement from the dissident-Catholic organization NETWORK that was titled “Catholic Sisters Support Passage of Healthcare Bill” – referring, of course to H.R. 3590 which was to be passed under the name of the Affordable Health Care Act of 2010 (affectionately dubbed Obamacare). [viii] This action was taken after and in contradiction to a United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ statement opposing H.R. 3590 because of its “serious flaws on abortion and conscience rights.”[ix]
And then the good Sisters wonder why the Vatican has found them wanting. [x]
[i] World Health Organization website: www.who.int/about/en/index.html
[ii] World Health Organization website: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/adolescence/en/index.html
[iii] World Health Organization website: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/adolescence/laws/en/index.html
[iv] Mark Tran, “Rich countries pledge $2.6bn for family planning in global south: Money raised at London conference will provide access to family planning for 120 million women and girls in developing countries,” The Guardian, 7-11-12: www.guardian.co.uk/global-development
[v] World Health Organization website, “WHO joins call for renewed focus on family planning: New policy briefs released at London Summit outline strategies to improve family planning, strengthen sexual and reproductive health services in developing countries; Note for the media,” 7-11-12: www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2012/family_planning_20120711/en
[vi] Catholic Health Association of the United States, 2-6-13: www.chausa.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=11337
[vii] Sisters of Charity website: www.sistersofcharityhealth.org/blog/post/2013/04/08/Prayer-for-today-%E2%80%93-World-Health-Day.aspx
[viii] Dennis Coday, “Thousands of Catholic sisters support health care reform,” National Catholic Reporter, 3-17-10: ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/thousands-catholic-sisters-support-health-care-reform
[ix] James Tillman, “USCCB Reiterates Opposition to Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill,” LifeSite News, 3-15-10.
[x] Ann Rodgers, “Nuns' leader seeks dialogue with Vatican to plead case,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6-10-12: www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/nuns-leader-seeks-dialogue-with-vatican-to-plead-case-639727