Tuesday, March 01, 2005

LA Times : : U.S. Wants Avowal Against Abortion

A summit marking the 10th anniversary of the U.N Women's Conference in Beijing with the stated goal of advancing global equality for women is being deadlocked by the US, until the attending delegates declare that women have no right to an abortion. This demand has led to a widespread outcry.
Of course, given that American women enjoy a Supreme Court sanctioned Constitutional right to an abortion, the Administration's position would seem to be that our Constitutional rights aren't really rights at all...


Blogger Management said...

U.S. Wants Avowal Against Abortion
The issue may dominate a U.N. conference on women's equality, to organizers' dismay.
By Maggie Farley
Times Staff Writer

March 1, 2005

UNITED NATIONS — Ten years after a landmark U.N. women's conference in Beijing, thousands of delegates convened here Monday to review the world's progress toward equality for women. But the meeting was plunged into controversy when the U.S. insisted that delegates declare that women have no right to abortion.

This week's session, attended by 80 government ministers and thousands of other delegates from nearly 100 countries, aims to reinvigorate efforts to improve women's lives as outlined at the 1995 Beijing conference. The U.N. Commission on the Status of Women had hoped to avoid controversy and focus on issues such as preventing HIV/AIDS, improving girls' education and halting sexual trafficking.

But negotiators from Washington say it is equally important for delegates to put in writing that the session does not create any new human rights, such as the right to abortion.

"We'd like to join with other nations in reaffirming women's rights and empowerment," said Mark Lagon, deputy assistant secretary of State for international organization affairs. "The United States is looking for concrete recognition that those documents from 10 years ago do not create new human rights with the weight of a treaty or a right to an abortion. The U.S. believes that there is international consensus on that."

But Monday evening, only Egypt and Qatar supported the U.S. position. Most other delegations agreed that the Beijing plan of action did not imply a right to abortion and that they were wary of opening the document to reinterpretation. The U.S. representatives stood firm, signaling that a debate over the issue could dominate the week's discussions.

At the 1995 conference, negotiators agreed to treat abortion as a public health issue, and the platform said that it should be safe where it is legal and that women should not be punished for having one. It left legal decisions up to each country.

"This is a policy document. It's not a human rights convention," Kyung-wha Kang, the session's chairwoman, said of the Beijing platform and this week's proposed declaration to affirm it. "It should not be seen as creating any new human rights."

Adrienne Germain, president of the International Women's Health Coalition, said the U.S. delegation's position took the focus off American progress.

"The U.S. is looked to by others as a leader in the promotion and protection of women's rights," she said. "But while other countries are moving forward, this is a regressive, backward step."

The U.S. has also proposed two resolutions. One aims to halt human trafficking and calls for a worldwide ban on prostitution. The other proposes reforming inheritance laws that favor sons, extending credit to women and allowing women to own property.

Some countries believe those proposals would undermine their traditions and laws.

At the opening ceremony Monday, U.N. officials and delegates said that women had been closing the gap in inequality during the last 10 years but that serious challenges remained.

5:31 PM  
Blogger Management said...

US Demand Causes Outcry at UN Meeting

A US attempt to insert language restricting abortion rights into documents prepared by a conference marking the 10th anniversary of a meeting in Beijing has sparked a determined response from European delegates as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations.

More than 150 such groups taking part in the conference that is examining the status of women a decade after the Beijing conference issued a statement Tuesday condemning the proposed US amendment.

"The purpose of this Session of the Commission on the Status of Women - the UN body charged specifically with advancing the status of women - is to reaffirm the Beijing Platform for Action, not to move backward or undermine it," the statement said.

"We, representatives of civil society organizations from all regions of the world, celebrate the historic achievement for women's human rights that the Platform represents," the document continued. "We strongly applaud the statement by Secretary General Kofi Annan that the Platform adopted in 1995 was 'a giant step forward' and that gender equality is critical to the development and peace of every nation', and we affirm his call for specific targeted actions to realize women's rights in ALL areas.

"In this light, we urge government delegations to oppose unequivocally the amendment to the Draft Declaration proposed by the United States. Let's affirm the Platform fully and move forward!" the signatories urged.

Nicole Ameline, the French Minister of Parity and Professional Equality, pointed out that the European Union and France, in particular, were opposed to the US amendment.

"France considers the Beijing Platform an achievement," the minister said at a press conference. "We are open to dialogue, but we also remain firm. It appears important to us to be able to adopt a new declaration without giving the world the impression that we are stepping back."

Ameline said this position had been unanimously approved by all 25 members of the European Union.

An aide to the minister explained that women's reproductive rights, as formulated in the Beijing Platform allow countries to legalize abortion but do not force them to do so.

Meanwhile, the US amendment will open the door to abortion bans, the aide pointed out.

The UN-sponsored World Conference on Women in Beijing set eight millennium goals, including cutting poverty by half by 2015.

Four other goals, based on recommendations from the Beijing conference, specifically affected women: universal access to primary education; promotion of gender equality; reduction of infant mortality; and improving women's health.

On Monday, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urged governments to pursue a comprehensive strategy aimed at guaranteeing women equal rights worldwide.

The UN head recommended improving girls' access to secondary as well as primary education, guaranteeing sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as property and inheritance rights and increasing women's share of seats in national parliaments and local government.

9:38 PM  

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