Vatican's Opposition to Emergency Contraception for Kosovar Refugees is Part of a Broader Political Agenda
International Planned Parenthood Federation Press Notice
London, May 7, 1999

The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) is concerned that the Vatican's criticisms of emergency contraceptive supplies being provided by IPPF and other international agencies to Kosovar refugees is part of a broader political agenda which focuses on preventing global access to contraceptives in general, and to emergency contraception specifically.

Despite reports of increasing numbers of rapes of Kosovar refugees, a spokesperson for the Vatican compared the use of the "morning after pill" by these victims as tantamount to abortion. IPPF believes this blatant misinformation not only impedes humanitarian response to basic human rights violations, but also works to minimize access to sexual and reproductive health and rights across the globe.

Emergency contraception - also known as the "morning after pill" - is an increased dose of the birth control pill that prevents pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of intercourse. IPPF and world health experts, including the World Health Organization, agree that emergency contraception cannot terminate an established pregnancy and therefore is not abortifacient. It is the only method of contraception that can be used after intercourse and is often taken when contraceptive methods fail, are not used, or when a woman has been raped.

Due to the observer status the Vatican holds at the United Nations, IPPF is concerned that the Kosovo situation is only one example of the unique opportunity the Holy See has to further its own political and religious interests at the global level.

"IPPF is appalled by the potential consequences of the Vatican's position and the apparent indifference it indicates towards the human suffering which will result from its stand on this issue", IPPF Director-General Ingar Brueggemann said.

IPPF urges governmental, non-governmental and other institutions to endorse existing appeals for a review of the Vatican's status within the United Nations.