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By Terrence McKeegan, J.D.

NEW YORK, NY, April 8, 2010 (C-FAM) – Last week in New York, Janet Benshoof, a panelist at an event commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), declared CEDAW to be “radical international law,” which should be thought of “as a tool for power.” 

Benshoof, who is currently President of the Global Justice Center, founded the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Law and Policy (since renamed the Center for Reproductive Rights). She stated that were the United States (US) to ratify CEDAW, it would bring about a “radical transformation of American law,” which would include overturning any abortion restrictions in domestic laws or those covering foreign activities. Further, Benshoof asserted that CEDAW doesn’t allow for any defense based on custom or religion, and that it applies to all private conduct.

Noting that there are now over 400 court decisions worldwide that have cited CEDAW, Benshoof was highly critical of Democratic Senators, the American Bar Association, Amnesty International, and other groups that have described CEDAW as being “abortion neutral.”  She described the current legislation on CEDAW being considered in the US Senate, with its eleven reservations, understandings, and declarations (RUDs), as a “twisted sister” version that was not worth passing.

The panel discussion was hosted by the New York University School of Law and sponsored by the New York State Bar Association.  Other panelists included Gaynel Curry, from the United Nations (UN) Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and Karen Stefiszyn, from the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

The UN officials on the panel said nothing to distance themselves from Benshoof’s remarks.  In fact, Curry spoke favorably of CEDAW committee recommendations that “encourage cultural changes,” while Stefiszyn highlighted the role of CEDAW in liberalizing Colombia’s abortion law, a development that Benshoof proudly took credit for working on.  Both Curry and Stefiszyn lamented the high number of reservations to CEDAW by States Parties, and saw them as the greatest challenge to fulfilling its vision.

All three panelists discussed the need of the US to impose the “temporary special measures” provisions of Article 4 of CEDAW to bring about equal participation of women in all areas of society.  Benshoof stated that implementing the special measures of CEDAW in the United States would require quotas to ensure equal representation between women and men in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. 

A recent paper by Resident Scholar Christina Hoff Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute found that Benshoof’s views on CEDAW are firmly in the mainstream of feminist thought, and warned that “CEDAW would give the activists and lawyers … the license to sue, reeducate, and resocialize their fellow citizens — opportunities that have eluded them under the Constitution.”

Despite the fact that CEDAW does not mention abortion, the compliance committee that oversees the treaty has taken an increasingly aggressive approach in reading a pro-abortion interpretation into the treaty.  Research by Thomas Jacobson of Focus on the Family has demonstrated that the CEDAW committee has pressured over 75 countries to legalize or increase access to abortion since 1995.

This article reprinted with permission from www.c-fam.org 

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