Tom McFeely

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UN women’s agency openly promotes abortion rights

Tom McFeely

NEW YORK, October 14, 2011 (C-FAM) - Call it “the Columbus Day Surprise”: On a day most Americans were celebrating a national holiday, a senior UN official for women’s rights outlined a vision for a Brave New World that incorporates a push for a global “right” to abortion.

This institutional UN affirmation of abortion rights — even though such a right has never been agreed upon by UN member states and does not exist in any major international human rights document — came via a presentation made to the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee on Monday morning at the start of a three-day discussion about the advancement of women.

Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director of UN Women, was the first official to address the session. UN Women was created last year by merging four separate organizations working in the area of women’s rights.

Puri presented the executive summary of the first report published by UN Women, on Access to Justice. Pro-lifers in attendance said the executive summary’s most striking aspect was its explicit promotion of abortion rights.

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The executive summary cites strict laws against abortion in 61 countries as a glaring example of “discriminatory laws, gaps in legal frameworks and failures of implementation” through which women “continue to be denied their rights.” Abortion is also prominently referenced in a section called “Balancing the Scales: Landmark Cases That Have Changed Women’s Lives.” One such “landmark case” is a 2006 decision by the Constitutional Court of Colombia that held that a national anti-abortion law violated women’s fundamental rights.

In both the summary and in Puri’s remarks, UN Women implicitly signaled it will aggressively promote its claim that abortion is a settled “right” within the framework of international law.

“We have devoted significant efforts to positioning UN Women as a catalyst for change,” Puri told the Third Committee. “We chose to focus our first flagship report on the important subject of women’s access to justice because we recognize that effective systems of justice are a foundation for gender equality and women’s full enjoyment of their human rights.

Reforms to bring legislation into compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women [CEDAW] are a key step.”

The reference to the CEDAW treaty is highly significant, pro-life UN insiders point out. Even though CEDAW does not reference abortion, the UN committee that monitors compliance with CEDAW routinely utilizes the treaty to criticize national governments that restrict abortion.

Silvia Pimentel, chair of the CEDAW monitoring committee, also addressed the Third Committee on Monday. In her remarks, she called on the United States and the six other countries that have not ratified CEDAW to do so expeditiously in order to join “the global consensus that women’s rights were human rights.”

According to US pro-life advocates, the Third Committee’s Columbus Day discussion gives additional reasons why Congress should continue to reject CEDAW ratification. They warn that Puri’s remarks and UN Women’s executive summary document provide some of the clearest evidence to date of the UN’s formal co-operation with the campaign to use the treaty as a primary tool for enforcing their demand for a global right to abortion. 

Reprinted with permission from c-fam.org.

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