By Joel Pavelski
Attendees from around the world streamed into the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the nation’s capitol on Wednesday morning for the third day of the second global Women Deliver conference, carrying pink bags with the inscription: “Celebrate Motherhood.” But conference organizers made sure the pink bags, and the information they contained, barely made it inside the doors.
The bags were offered by a small band of staffers and interns led by Jeanne Head, R.N, an experienced labor and delivery nurse, who serves as National Right to Life Vice President for International Affairs and also NRL’s United Nations Representative. They arrived outside the convention center at 8 am, and were promptly asked to move across the street.
The National Right to Life bags - as confiscated by "Women Delvier" staff
After about an hour, an attendee from Uganda walked across the street to ask for another bag. She had actually wanted to read the contents, she said. It was at this point that the staffers discovered from the Ugandan attendee that conference organizers were confiscating the bags and throwing them away. According to the Ugandan attendee, conference organizers were heard telling attendees that the pink bags contained information that was “anti-human-rights,” “anti-choice,” “anti-life,” and “anti-woman.”
A "Women Deliver" staffer stopping attendees with NRLC bags as they enter the convention center.
And so it was for that hour that the staff was outisde the convention center: attendees received the pink bags, walked across the street, and only to be required to dispose of them inside the building by conference organizers. (And from that point on, conference organizers began inspecting every bag being brought in because, in their words, the conference had been “infiltrated by anti-abortionists.”)
What was inside the pink bags that warranted such an immediate, censorious response?
The “Celebrate Motherhood” bags contained a small plastic fetal model of a 12-week-old unborn child, a small replication of an unborn child’s feet at 10 weeks gestation, a brochure on prenatal development, and a brochure containing information on proven means of reducing maternal mortality rates world wide (the supposed focus of the conference).
The "anti-human-rights" contents of the bag.
“Many international people really loved the information,” said Andrew Bair, one of the interns passing out the literature. “There were two women who loved the [12-week-old] baby models.”
Head managed to negotiate the return of the confiscated materials from convention center security – if she came back at 5 pm once the conference was over.
“There is nothing in this bag that tells anyone whether or not to have an abortion,” Head said, “It’s fetal development, medical facts, and a fetal model. They celebrate motherhood, and taking them is a violation of free speech. And it’s certainly anti-choice and anti-woman by denying attendees access to the full range of information on this vital subject.”
The three-day Women Deliver conference, co-sponsored by organizations that included United Nations Population Fund, USAID, UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, says on its website that the goal for the event is “delivering solutions for women and girls.” In practice, this means promoting abortion around the world.
The website also says that this year’s conference will “expand on Women Deliver’s hallmark of inclusivity, reaching out to new partners and new communities.”
But apparently, if you can’t include them, just find them, confiscate them, and trash them. It seems that for the organizers of Women Deliver 2010, inclusivity applies only to people who agree with their political platform.