Wednesday, June 30, 1999 Published at 23:48 GMT 00:48 UK
Birth control divides population conference
Now there are a billion people of child rearing age
Roman Catholic and Muslim countries want to reduce the emphasis on family planning and increase parental authority.
Countries like Libya, Sudan and Argentina, backed by the Vatican, argue that there is a drift towards accepting abortion and towards an erosion of family and religious values.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said: "Too many women still cannot choose when or whether to become pregnant [and] too many women resort to abortions that are not safe."
The UK International Development Secretary, Clare Short, told the conference that keeping the truth from sexually active adolescents is not the way to reduce population growth.
"One billion adolescents all over the world are sexually active ... we can't go on keeping them ignorant," she added.
One Catholic country, the Philippines, has accepted the education argument and is providing sex education and contraception in defiance of the Church.
The UN General Assembly sessions on population is an attempt to upgrade the Cairo agreement.
The other issue testing the meeting in New York is money. Nobody is spending as much on population polices as they promised in 1995.
The rich donor countries are only spending about a third of what they promised.
The conference, at the UN's New York headquarters, has three days to come up with a final document.
But no decisions will be binding on governments.