April 2000

Dear Senator,

I was disturbed to read about the Congressional resolution against The "See Change" Campaign and the attempt to open a review of the status of the Holy See at the United Nations.

We at the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) think that this is an important campaign to support. I personally have seen the impact that the Holy See can have at United Nations conferences, with-holding consent to any document that includes any reference to reproductive rights, or suggests support for the provision of reproductive health services.

Here in Ireland, we have had first hand experience of the power and strength of the Catholic church as it has sponsored state censorship and restrictive legislation. As an organisation, we at IFPA have helped overcome censorship laws against the publication of information about contraception and forced the repeal of restrictive condom laws.

The IFPA believes that every child should be a wanted child and that women and couples should be able to avoid unintended pregnancies irrespective of where they live. The United Nations increasingly makes decisions about these issues for women and men all around the world. It is vital that the UN be able to operate without the undue influence of a religious organisation that has a long-standing and well-publicized opposition to family planning. The Catholic church is the only religion with this power at the UN and therefore we feel that it is entirely appropriate to call for a review of its status as a 'state' at the UN. The position taken by the Holy See at the UN is entirely inconsistent with the practical and caring approach of so many clerical and lay members of the Catholic church working at the ground level throughout the world. Passing the resolution will harm the lives of the women and men who rely on the United Nations to support family planning projects around the world.

I ask that you do not vote for this resolution. I ask that you uphold the principle of the separation of Church and State and apply it to the UN which does so much good work around the world.

Yours sincerely,

Tony O'Brien
Chief Executive