- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 5, 2002

NEW YORK More than 300 leaders of pro-family groups pleaded with diplomats at the United Nations yesterday to reaffirm marriage and promote sexual abstinence among teen-agers.
The U.N. practice of providing millions of condoms to sexually active youth and adults in Africa was sharply criticized by Janet K. Museveni, first lady of Uganda, who said the world body should instead be promoting sexual abstinence to attack the HIV and AIDS "pandemic" ravaging the continent.
"The young person who has trained to be disciplined will, in the final analysis, survive better than the one who has been instructed to wear a piece of rubber and continue with 'business as usual,'" Mrs. Museveni told a World Congress of Families meeting on the eve of the General Assembly's Special Session on Children, which formally begins Wednesday.
"When we fail to tell our children that there are limitations to human freedom, for example, that there can be no freedom to hurt another human being; when we fail to teach our young that there are some moral absolutes and they must reckon with them or perish, then we do grievous harm to the future of the human race," said the wife of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
Mr. Museveni's response to Uganda's HIV and AIDS crisis in the war-ravaged nation in 1986 was not "to keep quiet because of other considerations such as our tourism trade and image," but to "speak out and sound an alarm in order to save lives," the first lady said.
The country's aggressive abstinence campaign, particularly among the youth, has reduced the rate of new HIV infections by two-thirds in from 1995 to 2000, she said.
"Those that practice abstinence are free to become positive contributors to society because they don't have to worry about illegitimate pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, or broken marriages," said Sharon Slater, head of the Arizona-based United Families International and an organizer of the New York conference.
Mrs. Slater pleaded with U.N. diplomats from more than 50 countries "to ensure that religions are respected and protected in U.N. documents, insofar as they respect the family and the dignity of the human person."
Wade F. Horn, President Bush's assistant secretary for children and families at the Department of Health and Human Services, said the United Nations should reaffirm marriage and sexual fidelity because "government ought to make it clear that government is in the business of promoting healthy marriages because it is an effective strategy for improving the well-being of children."
About three-fourths of children without fathers in the home will experience poverty before age 11, compared with 20 percent in two-parent families, he said.
Last week, in celebration of National Family Week, Mr. Bush said, "Many one-parent families are also a source of comfort and reassurance, yet a family with a mom and dad who are committed to marriage and devote themselves to their children helps provide children a sound foundation for success."
Mr. Horn rejected the argument that government should be neutral on marriage in the same sense that it "has no business promoting one flavor of ice cream over another."
"Government is not neutral about a lot of things like home ownership or charitable giving precisely because it can be shown that home ownership and charitable giving contribute to the common good," he said.
Conference participants sharply criticized efforts of feminist groups to introduce "sexual rights," including the right to abortion, for children and teen-agers into a U.N. declaration being drafted for the U.N. Child Summit.
Richard G. Wilkins, a law professor and director of the World Family Policy Center at Brigham Young University, said access to "abortion on demand" is being required of countries by the U.N. committee that enforces the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
The child summit declaration this week will ask all countries to ratify the CEDAW; the United States has not done so.
"The CEDAW committee routinely criticizes governments for limiting abortion even though abortion is nowhere mentioned as a right in the convention itself," Mr. Wilkins said. "The committee also labels motherhood as a mere 'stereotype' that holds women back."
"When countries have attempted to follow the admonition in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that motherhood and the correlative right of childbearing deserve special protection and care, the CEDAW committee has complained that these efforts are 'paternalistic' or even worse that encouraging motherhood discourages women from seeking greater fulfillment in paid work," he said.
To the contrary, said Allan Carlson, director of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society in Rockford, Ill., "governments should take all reasonable steps to treat motherhood as the most important of vocations and to ensure that the mother-child bond is given priority over short-term economic needs."
Because of the United States' high divorce and abortion rates, "America has become the most dangerous country in the world into which a child is born the richest and the most dangerous," said Patrick Fagan, director of child and family studies at the Heritage Foundation.
Only 28 percent of children in the United States make it to age 11 in an intact home with both a mother and father, he said.
Feminism and sexual promiscuity have caused "massive alienation of the sexes," Mr. Fagan said. "The sexual has gone chaotic and at the center of the sexual is the child. The child has been rejected."
In European countries, high abortion rates and decisions by numerous couples not to marry and have children will reduce their populations 97 percent in four to five generations, Mr. Fagan said.
"That is sexual suicide. And that is what the United Nations wants to bring onto the world. That is psychotic. It is suicidal," he said.

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