Pro-life evangelicals have been unexpectedly pleased by the results of the United Nations population conference, even though with few exceptions they found themselves sidelined in the sharp debates in Cairo.

Indeed, Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.), an outspoken proponent of international human rights, called the outcome of the conference "a remarkable victory for global pro-life forces and the 100 countries throughout the world that legally protect the lives of their unborn children."

While Roman Catholics and some Muslim groups were influential at the historic United Nations International Conference on Population and Development, evangelicals afterwards were asking: Why didn't more evangelical Christians exercise greater influence?

There was a marked contrast between the respectful dialogue engaged in by disagreeing delegates and the discordant rhetoric of several American pro-lifers, who did not so much lead a moral crusade in Cairo as engage in disruption. They spoke out of order, interrupted proceedings, and got arrested.

While Smith and a few others worked inside the system, other Christian groups stood outside the process firing salvos. The International Right to Life's efforts, led by New York nurse Jeanne Head, issued press releases on the UN document and U.S. motivations, claiming the Clinton administration was using "coercion" on "poor countries" to achieve its goals. Some religious broadcasting journalists accused Latin American leaders of "bowing to financial pressures from the United States."

Several pro-lifers from the United States attended the conference on media credentials but went beyond journalistic bounds by lobbying in the halls of the conference and by using press briefings to voice their opinions. Such ...

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