Just like “family planning”, “reproductive health” is an innocent sounding term fraught with (deliberate) ambiguity. The things it includes tend to be in the fine print of NGO and UN documents where “maternal mortality” and “unsafe abortion” are juxtaposed to imply a need to legalise abortion. Those who do not see abortion as a health or family planning measure are left to ask the hard questions about the meaning of draft UN documents and the like. Does “reproductive health/services/rights” include abortion, or doesn’t it?
Now US congressman Chris Smith has cleared up any doubt that it does. Yesterday, as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
"And so we have total transparency, does the United States' definition of the term 1) "reproductive health" or 2) "reproductive services" or 3) "reproductive rights" include abortion?"
"We have a very fundamental disagreement. It is my strongly held view that you are entitled to advocate, and everyone who agrees with you should be free to do so, anywhere in the world and so are we."
"We happen to think that family planning is an important part of women's health and reproductive health includes access to abortion that I believe should be safe, legal and rare."
There we have it, from one of the highest authorities on the subject. At least there is no doubt that President Obama’s administration will be endorsing legalised abortion as part of its policy towards developing nations. What a shame.