by Wendy Wright
NEW YORK, August 9 (C-FAM) A USAID employee shut down a workshop on abortion complications just hours before doctors were to present at a medical conference in South Korea. Her associate then physically blocked TV cameras from interviewing the physicians.
Claudia Morrissey Conlon, a senior advisor with USAID, and Shelley Ross objected to presentations on medical complications of abortion at the Medical Women’s International Association (MWIA) conference.
One presentation explained how abortion advocates co-opted maternal/newborn efforts to promote abortion as a way to reduce maternal deaths. The information was gleaned from Women Deliver meetings where attendees were told to oppose obstacles to abortion, like ultrasounds and health providers’ right to refuse to do abortions.
Morrissey is a “maternal newborn health advisor” at USAID and a coordinator for Women Deliver.
MWIA released a fiery statement calling the presentations a “politicization” that lack “scientific merit” and “would deny women their basic right to choose.” Morrissey and Ross hold leadership positions with MWIA.
The Korean Medical Women’s Association organized the conference and invited the doctors to discuss “Pregnancy and Abortion.” Drs. Donna Harrison and Mary Davenport, both obstetricians and gynecologists, and Dr. Martha Shuping, a psychiatrist, tackled different issues: subsequent preterm births, mental health issues, and maternal mortality.
The Scientific Committee of the conference approved the presentations.
The night before the workshop, MWIA cancelled the panel. Morrissey, who describes herself as “a life-long feminist and social activist,” and Ross, MWIA’s Secretary General, objected to the topics.
Media had been invited to cover the panel. As reporters asked questions, Ross burst into the room. “Why are you being interviewed,” she demanded. “Who gave you permission to interview these people,” she asked reporters.
Ross then stood in front of the TV camera, stating, “This interview is over.”
The reporters objected, “You are interfering with the freedom of the press.” Ross refused to move.
The doctors and reporters moved to a hallway, where people with Ross harassed the Korean translator, mocking, grabbing and snapping pictures in her face.
MWIA’s president stood behind the belligerent actions. “I have intervened to ensure that there will not be such presentations,” Afua Hesse stated. It is “indisputable” that abortion is linked to “the health of women and children” and “the wealth of nations.”
Dr. Shuping points out researchers on both sides of abortion agree some women are at increased risk for mental health problems after abortion, such as those pressured into abortion, lacking emotional and social support, and adolescents.
Dr. Harrison, who exposed the Women Deliver strategy, also explains abortion’s overall risks and how data is manipulated by changing the definition of “unsafe” abortion to means legal restrictions on abortion.
“If a country simply legalizes abortion then the women still die,” she explains. “But now these women’s deaths become invisible to the official statistics” because “’safe’ abortion deaths are not tracked.”
Dr. Davenport notes 135 studies worldwide find an association between abortion and preterm births. Preterm births are a leading cause of newborn deaths and of children under 5. Preterm children can suffer a multitude of long-term consequences. Related health costs run into billions of dollars.
MWIA says it is “non-political.” This year, after attending the UN commission on women, it lobbied President Obama to issue an executive order to fund international abortions in cases of rape. This went beyond other abortion advocates’ proposal, which is limited to rapes during wars.