Saviors of the Children

Far-Right Bush Delegates Ally With Religious Conservatives at UN Conference

Among the politically charged choices for the influential spots on the delegation is Paul Bonicelli, dean of academic affairs at Patrick Henry College. The two-year-old school in Virginia is "not just another Christian college," as its Web site will tell you. Indeed, Patrick Henry, which counts Janet Ashcroft (the wife of the Pentecostal U.S. attorney general) among its board members, prides itself on its ability to produce conservative political leaders. And, according to the Web site, each employee, board member, and student must believe, among other evangelical tenets, that "Man is by nature sinful and is inherently in need of salvation, which is exclusively found by faith alone in Jesus Christ and His shed blood."

Another delegate is John Klink, a devout Roman Catholic who has previously represented the Vatican at several UN conferences. Klink is so far right, he has opposed providing the "morning after" pill to rape victims in refugee camps and decried the use of condoms even to halt the spread of HIV. Indeed, he's come out against all birth control, with the exception of "natural family planning," also known as the "rhythm method" and, to its critics, "Vatican roulette." Klink will be joined on the delegation by Brother Bob Smith, who runs a Catholic high school in Milwaukee and has advised the president on his initiative to involve faith-based groups in social policy.

illustration: Jeff Crosby

In Poland, where only 8 percent of women use modern contraception and abortion is severely restricted, Wanda Nowicka is used to the heavy influence of religion on reproductive issues. Nowicka, who works for the Federation for Women and Family Planning in Warsaw and is a member of the Polish delegation to the child summit, says the struggle for access to birth control and abortion in Poland involves facing off against powerful church groups. In the past, though, UN treaties made her work easier. "We used to be able to say, look at those progressive countries like the U.S.," she says. "But now I'm afraid the document that will come out of this summit will show that progress is headed in a different direction."

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