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Fiftieth Session of the Commission for Social Development: Poverty Eradication Statement: Family issues, policies and programmes

Priests for Life applauds the focus of the Fiftieth Session of the Commission for Social Development on Poverty Eradication and affirms the need to assist and protect the family. The family is the foundation of society; no social construct can replace or take its place. All individuals who compose the family are at the center of development as recognized by the General Assembly in the Declaration on the Right to Development (A/Res/41/128),  “…that the human person is the central subject of the development process and that development policy should therefore make the human being the main participant and beneficiary of development.”

Regrettably, far too often the reverse is the operative policy, and in the name of “development” people are considered expendable.  Authentic development includes all members of the family in policies and programs and supports the family when it is suffering from economic and social hardship and deprivation.

Cultures throughout the world recognize the critical role of the family in providing for the basic needs of food, water, shelter, clothing, love and care and provide for its sustainability through social and political means.  The family, in turn, provides for the very survival of its culture and country. The failure to value the family and its procreative genius has tragically resulted in critical challenges for many states brought on by shrinking families and below replacement fertility rates. The failure to provide for the procreative nature of the family has resulted in the loss of millions of lives through abortion; individuals whose unique contributions are forever denied to the human family. 

True social development will not allow any member of the family to be selectively marked as expendable— regardless of disability, disease, condition of dependency or stage of development. All members of the family are deserving of protection, including those that have been classified as expendable by some and excluded from basic social protection. No member of the family can be stripped of their human dignity and denied their most basic right—the right to life.  Life is not for the privileged, the perfect and the planned but extends to all members of the human family. 

Children identified with disability in the womb need to be welcomed at birth with the best medical care available and not aborted simply because they are not “perfect”. The children of families in developing countries need to be valued for their innate human dignity and not treated as mere numbers in a population count. Their lives ought to be valued as much as children born to women privileged to live in developing countries.

As children grow and develop their lives need protection as they face challenges brought on by development problems such as autism. The number of autistic children is on the rise worldwide and their families need assistance to care for them. Additionally, the lives of ageing individuals need support as the intergenerational balance of the family has severely shifted resulting in a suppressed number of family caregivers who can care for ageing family members. States must now assume the role of “caregiver”, once the responsibility of the family in past generations.

Clearly, the need to protect the family and enable it to function as the core foundation of society is critical to states.  The family must be protected and assisted in all policies and programs to eradicate poverty. When the family is disrupted and devalued, individual members suffer greatly, voiding the goal of development to assist the individual.  It is our duty to protect and provide for all members of the family as sustainable measures are made to eradicate poverty.

 

 

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