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IPPF's Illegal Activities.

The IPPF does not merely talk about breaking the law, it is engaged in massive ongoing violations.

The IPPF has been promoting and enabling illegal abortion in the Philippines for at least twenty years, and has been providing large numbers of abortion machines to numerous developing countries, including Bangladesh, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, and India.

The following extract from a Hastings Center Report article shows how the IPPF assists groups in circumventing the laws of developing countries, while systematically covering up such activities:

The International Planned Parenthood Federation of London (IPPF) has been the most outspoken advocate of legal abortion services in the developing countries … As a central body it receives funds from international donors, including AID [the United States Agency for International Development], and passes money and supplies along to the local associations … The IPPF's stated position is that abortion should be legally available to those who desire it and that local associations, when possible, should assist in providing the necessary services …
In the Philippines, where abortion is both illegal and explicitly against official population policy, the IPPF provided 200 "menstrual regulation" [first trimester abortion] kits for demonstration purposes … Further controversy arose when the FPOP [the IPPF affiliate, Family Planning Organization of the Philippines] distributed "menstrual regulation" kits to local doctors. Although the government had laws specifically prohibiting the importation of abortive devices, these kits were brought into the country as "medical instruments" to obtain "sample tissue for examination." These examples show the potential of the IPPF and its collaborating organizations for circumventing national laws and policies …
One of IPPF's largest projects, totaling about $62,000, was in Bangladesh, where 5,000 vacuum aspiration kits were provided to the local family planning association. These kits have also been supplied to Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, and India. Although most of these projects have been relatively small -- usually under $30,000 -- the IPPF has not provided details of its activities in its published reports, even in its main report to donor agencies. One reason, apart from the illegal and controversial nature of these activities, may be that the federation is under constant scrutiny from the U.S. government to insure that it is not violating the Helms Amendment.15 

The Definition of "Menstrual Regulation"

"Menstrual regulation" (MR) or "menstrual extraction" (ME) are synonyms for an abortion procedure that is especially suited to circumventing the abortion laws of developing countries, because the abortions are performed so early that the "evidence" which results is either destroyed during the procedure or easily disposed of.

The IPPF Family Planning Handbook for Doctors describes the MR/ME procedure:

Menstrual regulation is commonly defined as evacuation of the uterus in a woman who has missed her menstrual period by 14 days or less, who previously had regular periods and who has been at risk of conception. It may be performed before proof of pregnancy … It can be used for: (1) diagnostic or therapeutic curettage; (2) the treatment of incomplete abortion; (3) uterine evacuation to ensure that no early pregnancy is present at the time of tubal ligation if this is done in the second half of the menstrual cycle; and (4) uterine evacuation in cases of suspected pregnancy.
In some countries, menstrual regulation has proved remarkably popular, and individual practitioners sometimes perform several thousand operations a year. In certain countries menstrual regulation is legal, even when therapeutic abortion is illegal, as in many Latin American countries, where prosecution for abortion requires proof that a pregnancy was terminated …16 

The IPPF Medical Bulletin further defines MR/ME as a method of abortion:

Endometrial aspiration using a hand-held vacuum syringe is a cheap, safe and effective technology for very early termination of pregnancy, that can be taught to a variety of health personnel … endometrial aspiration is being used in come countries when a woman misses her period by a maximum of 14 days but pregnancy is not confirmed. In these cases, the technique is usually called menstrual regulation …(4)

Recall that the IPPF has supplied thousands of vacuum aspiration abortion machines purportedly for "collecting tissue samples" or "finishing incomplete abortions," but which can just as easily be used for early suction abortions.

Malcolm Potts explained nearly thirty years ago how the IPPF drove a wedge for abortion on demand into the cultures of countless developing countries. Notice that Potts also acknowledges that MR/ME is indeed an abortion procedure, and that it is a simple and convenient method of performing illegal abortions that are difficult to prosecute:

Using the name "menstrual regulation" alters the name of the game … It is not practical to write about abortion in a Bangladesh newspaper in a straightforward way, but it has proved acceptable to hold a much-publicized conference on menstrual regulation in Dacca … It is not prudent to have even a whispered discussion of the role of abortion in family planning in the Philippines; but it generates immediate and widespread interest to discuss menstrual regulation … Menstrual regulation is probably safer than any other pregnancy termination procedure … there will be no proof of pregnancy unless the tissue removed from the uterus is subjected to microscopic examination. The point is of crucial importance in countries where abortion is illegal.(8)

Using MR to Undermine the Law

The International Planned Parenthood Federation frequently boasts about how it or other population control organizations use MR to undermine the laws of developing nations. This is usually done, as mentioned above, in the name of reducing "unsafe abortions." IPPF says that:

Unsafe abortion is of considerable concern in some regions, but the actions FPAs are able to undertake are constrained by existing laws and lack of facilities. Where abortion is illegal, many FPAs carry out advocacy work and undertake research on the problem to back their advocacy activities. Discussions are held with influential people, religious and community leaders and policy makers. Some FPAs offer services for the management of post-abortion complications, or provide post-abortion counseling and contraceptive services. Some are able to offer menstrual regulation. Where abortion is legal, some FPAs provide safe abortion services.17 

IPPF explains how FPAs may use MR to circumvent the law in Latin America;

However, in other juridical systems, like those used in the greater part of South America, the proof of pregnancy is a prerequisite in order to establish a cause for abortion. In this situation, it would be much easier to defend the practice of menstrual regulation as a legal procedure for women that ask for help shortly after observing a late period and before pregnancy can be clinically proven. It should be mentioned that there have not appeared in any part of the world cases of MR that have given rise to legislation in this area and the proponents must depend upon legal assistance in proportion to the absence of cases establishing precedence.18 

Menstrual regulation plays a large part of IPPF's plans for the future. Predicts the organization: "No doubt vacuum abortion early in pregnancy will be used on an increasingly large scale. Hand-held menstrual regulation equipment will continue to be very important."19 

The IPPF's Medical Bulletin explains that "In countries where abortion is legal, FPAs should be encouraged to ensure its provision as part of health and fertility regulation services … In countries where the legal status of abortion is unclear or restricted, some FPAs have demonstrated that a close examination of the law can reveal a margin of flexibility in its interpretation."20 

There are numerous examples of how IPPF uses MR to undermine the laws of developing countries. A few of these are noted below.

* Bangladesh. Despite the fact that abortion is illegal in Bangladesh, IPPF acknowledges that "About 22 percent of abortions are now being performed in the MR centers by the trained providers."
* Kenya. Abortion is illegal in Kenya as well, but IPPF approved of the introduction of manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) machines, first to complete illegal abortions, and then to perform abortions. In an IPPF publication, Khama Rogo wrote "Let us not wait for the law to change, let us do what we can even before the law changes."
* Indonesia. Abortion is also illegal in Indonesia, but, according to IPPF, "The Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (IPPA) has introduced menstrual regulation (MR) services. Although initially only used in cases of contraceptive failure, MR is now being offered for wider indications." IPPA now runs 15 clinics in Indonesia that perform thousands of MR abortions annually in defiance of the law.21 

IPPF affiliates have found that MR provides the "margin of flexibility" they need to stretch the meaning of local and national laws against abortion far beyond their original intent, as shown above. The objective, of course, is to soften individual consciences and render all anti-abortion laws unenforceable in preparation for a widespread push for abortion legalization.

The International Planned Parenthood Federation has been deeply involved in the promotion and performance of abortion on a massive scale in scores of developing countries for at least thirty years. It has spent billions of dollars to promote every type of family planning, and explicitly states that family planning programs must include the provision of abortion.

The IPPF is in a unique position to assist in the repeal of abortion laws in developing countries. As an NGO, it can operate and interfere in the internal affairs of developing countries without provoking cries of neo-colonialism. In reality, of course, the vast majority of the IPPF's funding is derived from the contributions of a handful of developed nations: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.22 

Most importantly, the IPPF has firmly stated in its Vision 2000 strategic planning document and many other references that it intends to continue to promote and facilitate abortion through every one of its 140 national affiliates.

The IPPF holds as central principles that family planning is a human right and family planning must include abortion. By inference, therefore, the IPPF believes that abortion is a fundamental human right.

All financial contributions by developed countries to the IPPF will further one of its most cherished aims: The legalization of abortion in all developing countries.

Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote D Ivoire, Guinea (Conakry). [Problems]: "Restrictive [abortion] legislation …" [Strategies]: "Improve access and availability of safe abortion services …"
Ethiopia. [Problems]: "Abortion is restricted by law …" [Goals]: "To campaign for the abolition of restrictions on family planning services [including abortion] and the rights for women to use these services." [Objectives]: "Remove all legal constraints and customary practices militating against women and increase their access to family planning services … Establish centers for safe abortion services." [Activities]: "Lobby with lawyers and service providers for the abolition of restrictive laws affecting women's and young people's reproductive health."
The Gambia. [Problems]: "Status of abortion law." [Activities]: "Advocate for the provision of safe abortion services."
Kenya. [Goal]: "To improve family planning services, abortion and post-abortion services in order to reduce the rate of unsafe abortion." [Strategies]: "Advocate for review of existing [abortion] laws … Improve family planning and abortion services … [Objectives]: "Achieve more liberal [abortion] legislation within five years … make MVA [Manual Vacuum Aspiration abortion machines] services available in all district and provincial hospitals and 10 mission hospitals within three years."
Mauritius. [Problems]: "The law on abortion is very restrictive." [Goals]: "To decriminalize abortion through revision of existing laws." [Objectives]: "By the year 2000 to … sensitize at least 75 percent of women's groups to the risks of unsafe abortion and actions to advocate for legislative reform."
Nigeria. [Problems]: "Restrictive [abortion] laws." [Goals]: "To introduce a module on abortion into any community survey … to educate the public, including policy-makers, opinion leaders, traditional and religious leaders, youth and women's organizations on the advantages of family planning and safe abortion in appropriate circumstances."
Tanzania. [Problems]: "Very restrictive abortion law." [Goal]: "To reduce maternal mortality and morbidity associated with complications of unsafe abortion through the promotion of reproductive health information and services, efficient treatment of abortion complications, post-abortion counseling and contraceptive services, and safe abortion practice." [Strategies]: "To lay the foundations for the provision of access to safe abortion practice through the use of the most favorable interpretation of the existing law and constitution for the benefit of the woman, as well as work for the eventual decriminalization of abortion." [Objectives]: "To have in place laws that permit for the provision of safe abortion services."
Uganda. [Problems]: "Restrictive [abortion] law, which also inhibits research and discussion of the problem." [Strategies]: Advocacy for [abortion] law and policy change."
Zambia. [Strategies]: "Set up modal abortion care centers in four major hospitals by the end of 1995 … By the end of 1997 set up similar centers in remaining provincial and major mission hospitals … by the year 2000 in district hospitals … Train all doctors in Obstetrics/Gynecology wards in major hospitals in the performing of manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) techniques by the end of 1996 … By the end of 1998 safe abortion training will be incorporated into existing nursing, medical and clinical officer curricula … By the end of 1997 amend the law and policy guidelines on the Termination of Pregnancy Act [of] 1972 …"
IPPF Africa Regional Women's Advisory Panel (RWAP). [Problems]: "Restrictive or inadequate abortion laws." [Goals]: To reduce unsafe abortion through integration of abortion services into existing maternal and child health/family planning (MCH/FP) services throughout the Region … National Women's Advisory Panels (NWAPs) to work for revision or liberalization of existing laws to ensure that safe abortion is legalized." [Strategies]: "NWAPs should play a leading role in lobbying for review of the existing [abortion] law and its repeal where necessary …" [Objectives]: "Between 1995 and 1997, at least 10 countries of the Region should have reviewed, repealed and liberalized [abortion] laws and further reduced the incidence of unsafe abortion by at least 10 per cent."


1.   IPPF Income and Expenditure Account for the year ended 31 December 1991 and accompanying chart entitled "Growth of IPPF's Income." Amount is in adjusted 1995 U.S. dollars, corrected for an average five percent inflation. [Back]

2.   IPPF Annual Report, 1989-1990. [Back]

3.   International Planned Parenthood Federation, Africa Region. The Mauritius Conference: Unsafe Abortion and Post-Abortion Family Planning in Africa. London: IPPF, 1994. Pages 13-15 and 24 to 35. [Back]

4.   "Statement on Unsafe Abortion and Reproductive Health." IPPF Medical Bulletin, Volume 26, Number 1 (February 1992) [Back]

5.   International Planned Parenthood Federation. "Vision 2000: Moving Forward After Cairo and Beijing." London: IPPF, 1996, page 30. [Back]

6.   Dr. Fred Sai, former president of IPPF. "Unsafe Abortion Must Be Tackled Now." Planned Parenthood Challenges: Unsafe Abortion. 1993. [Back]

7.   "An Interview with Peng Yu, Vice Minister of the State Family Planning Commission." Integration, March 1994, page 32. [Back]

8.   Malcolm Potts, Peter Diggory and John Peel. Abortion. London: Cambridge University Press, 1970. Pages 230 to 232. [Back]

9.   Internet news release entitled "IPPF Strengthens Stand on Reproductive Rights and Unsafe Abortion," dated November 29, 1995, taken from IPPF's home page at on April 2, 1996. [Back]

10.   "Encounter: Dr. Fred Sai, International Planned Parenthood Federation." Sunday Inquirer Magazine, November 26, 1995, pages 3-5. [Back]

11.   International Planned Parenthood Federation. "The Voluntary Sector in Population and Development." London, 1979. [Back]

12.   Malcolm Potts, M.D., former director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). "Population Growth and Abortion," in Gerald I. Zatuchni, John J. Sciarra, and J. Joseph Speidel (editors). Pregnancy Termination: Procedures, Safety and New Developments. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1979, page 424. [Back]

13.   International Planned Parenthood Federation. The Human Right to Family Planning. 1984, paragraph 106. [Back]

14.   Undated IPPF/WHR pamphlet entitled "20 Questions About International Planned Parenthood Federation Western Hemisphere Region." [Back]

15.   Donald Page Warwick. "Foreign Aid for Abortion." The Hastings Center Report, Volume 10, Number 2, page 33, April 1980. [Back]

16.   IPPF Family Planning Handbook for Doctors. Chapter 15, "Menstrual Regulation," pages 241, 242, and 247-248, date not given, but post-1987. [Back]

17.   International Planned Parenthood Federation. "Sexual and Reproductive Health: Family Planning Puts Promises Into Practice." London: IPPF, 1995, page 25. [Back]

18.   Translated from the Spanish. Federacion Internacional de Planificacion de la Familia [International Planned Parenthood Federation].Regulacion Menstrual. London: IPPF, 1976, page 10. [Back]

19.   "The Challenge of the 1990s: Induced Abortion." IPPF Medical Bulletin, Volume 25, Number 1 (February 1991), page 2. [Back]

20.   "[IPPF] International Medical Advisory Board Statement on Abortion." IPPF Medical Bulletin, Volume 27, Number 4 (August 1993). [Back]

21.   International Planned Parenthood Federation. Challenges: Unsafe Abortion. London: IPPF, 1993, pages 31 to 35. [Back]

22.   "Support from Around the World," International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region 1990 Annual Report. [Back]

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