(WOMENSENEWS)-The Vatican has condemned the field manual of the U.N. refugee agency because it supports full reproductive rights for refugees, including birth control and emergency contraception for women who have been raped, the Reuters news agency reported.
Rape is common in conflicts worldwide and in the last few years has been recognized as an intentional weapon of war, used to demoralize populations and undermine the unity of communities, as in Bosnia where Serbs raped thousands of Bosnian women. Many of those women were rejected by their husbands and communities. Some rapists and their commanders have been convicted of war crimes at the U.N. International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.
In a report Thursday, Reuters said the Vatican has distributed a document to its bishops conferences worldwide, strongly criticizing the 241-page manual of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees for promoting “proposals regarding the limitations of births, an idea of irresponsible sexual relations and even abortion.”
The Vatican said the latest U.N. refugee agency guide, first published in 1999, recommends emergency contraception-a large dose of birth control pills-for women who have been raped, something the Catholic Church deems “chemical abortion.”
The church said the refugee agency guide contained “anti-values that offend the dignity of the poorest and most vulnerable populations.” It warned Catholics working with refugees to be particularly wary of the manual’s proposals for reproductive health programs for adolescents, saying they would introduce teen-agers to “the world of individualistic and irresponsible sexual pleasure, which increases the risk of extending the HIV/AIDS epidemic.”–Victoria Graham