HHS Adviser Criticizes WHO for Promoting Self-managed Medical Abortions in Countries Where It’s Restricted

Valerie Huber, senior policy advisor in the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Global Affairs, speaks at the Second International Conference on Family Policies in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 4, 2019. | Matt Ryb Pictures / Matt Rybczynski

An advisor with the Department of Health and Human Services criticized the World Health Organization for what she says is the United Nations agency’s promotion of self-managed medical abortions in countries where abortion rights are restricted. 

Valerie Huber, the senior policy advisor in the HHS Office of Global Affairs, spoke last week at the Second International Conference on Family Policy. The event was hosted by the Hungarian Embassy and attended by many social conservative activists and government officials from nations like Poland, Brazil and the U.S.

Huber spoke for about 12 minutes on Wednesday morning on the topic of maternal mortality, citing statistics that show that almost 800 women die each day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.

She said that while only one out of 5,000 women in high-income countries die from maternal mortality, that number skyrockets to 1 out of every 36 in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Huber contended that maternal mortality internationally is a “winnable battle” and is a problem that “can be cured.” She noted that in countries where rates of maternal mortality are highest the rate of skilled birth attendants is very low.

While several causes are at play when it comes to the prevalence of maternal mortality like severe bleeding after birth, infection, and preclampsia, Huber criticized the WHO for listing “unsafe abortion” as a cause of maternal mortality.

Huber, who worked for years as one of the most prominent sexual risk avoidance (abstinence) education activists in Washington, said WHO’s listing of abortion “diverts” attention from the issue of maternal mortality to a more politically charged issue of abortion.

“And ladies and gentlemen, I’m very sorry to say that in international settings, the discussion about maternal mortality is almost completely overshadowed by this debate over abortion,” she said. “And it should not be so. … It diverts away to something that is instead controversial.”

The WHO finds that between 4.7 percent and 13.2 percent of maternal deaths can be attributed to unsafe abortions.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith