NEW YORK, February 6, 2004 ( – The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women urged Ethiopia to decriminalize abortion and to publicly fund contraceptives.  The committee met with Ethiopian Government officials January 26 and was informed that abortion is illegal in Ethiopia.

Despite the stated UN policy not to promote abortion in countries where it is illegal, UN Committee member Sjamsiah Achmad, the expert from Indonesia, asked the Ethiopian representatives, “Would (the government) consider reviewing the punitive measures contained in the penal code against women who had undergone abortions?”  She also claimed: “Something along those lines had been recommended in the Beijing Platform for Action.”  Another committee member, Salma Khan from Bangladesh, was troubled by low rates of contraceptive use in the country. “There was also a very low rate of contraceptive use—as few as 8 per cent of married women,” said Khan.  “That raised certain questions about the availability of family planning services for women and adolescents.”  Ms. Heisoo Shin (Republic of Korea), Vice-Chairperson of the Committee, also picked up on the contraceptive issue.  “(Is) the cost of contraceptives affordable for women?,” she asked. “If (it is) too expensive, the Government should make contraceptives available through a budgetary allowance,” she said.  See the UN report on the proceedings:   See related LifeSite coverage:  United Nations Pushes Nepal to Allow More Abortions


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