Upset at attempts by the Vatican to disrupt progress on limiting world population growth, 126 women’s organizations from around the globe yesterday sent an open letter to the Roman Catholic Church protesting its efforts. The letter asked how a church that holds life as “a fundamental value” could watch thousands of women die because they lack access to family planning and abortion, and why an institution that “by its nature does not have women or children or sexual and reproductive problems” is “blocking advances in contraception, sexual education and H.I.V. prevention.” A small group of conservative Catholic and Muslim nations, with backing from the Vatican, yesterday continued to block progression at a U.N. conference trying to build upon the 1994 Cairo population agreement.

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