U.S. Pressing Anti-Abortion Amendment at U.N.

Press Reports Faulty, Say Observers

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NEW YORK, MARCH 3, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Press reports to the contrary, the United States is not halting its efforts to clarify that the 1995 U.N. Conference on Women did not call for a universal right to abortion.

Some news outlets earlier claimed that the United States was backing down from an amendment to clarify the intentions of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

Today, however, in a closed-door session, no other delegations came forward in support of the U.S. efforts to propose the amendment, according to Jennifer Kimball, of the Movement for the Advancement of Rights, Virtue, Education and Leadership.

Abortion is a centerpiece topic of the current U.N. Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, dubbed «Beijing+10.»

At a briefing today, Ambassador Ellen Sauerbrey, head of the U.S. delegation, confirmed that the United States was in fact pushing forward with its efforts with the amendment.

Jeanne Head, U.N. representative for the International Right to Life Federation, told ZENIT that figures were presented at the briefing, indicating support for the U.S. position. She cited the figure of «over 500,000 e-mails from over 50 nations coming forward in support of the U.S. proposed amendment.»

«While a broad range of feminist NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] there at the U.N. are dispersing propaganda that the U.S. delegation is going to withdraw this amendment,» Head explained, «the U.S., with the support from delegations such as the Holy See, are aiming to have it adopted by the end of this week.»

The proposed U.S. amendment to the meeting’s proposed final declaration clarifies that the platform of action adopted at the 1995 U.N. women’s conference in Beijing should not establish any new human rights, including «the right to abortion.»

Head said that many of the pro-abortion NGOs present questioned the necessity of «bringing abortion up, because they say the declaration doesn’t include a right to abortion.

«But interestingly enough,» Head noted, «that’s not how they are acting.»

«I want to ask them then, that as this is such a non-issue to them, why not let it go?» she said.

Head added: «This particular document is only one-page in length and reaffirms Beijing, but it’s very dangerous in all its simplicity.

«The real threat is that by reaffirming Beijing, you are making a very strong addition to customary international law, especially when it’s being misinterpreted by so many people as including an international ‘woman’s right to abortion’ as this has never been the case.»

«As international law can be used to bypass sovereignty of states,» Head said, «the U.S. amendment is needed to prevent the Beijing document from being misused to promote abortion as a human right worldwide.»

Head, who has been attending these sessions on women since Cairo in 1994, said that contrary to the views of radical feminists, this amendment is «not attempting to cause a reversal to Beijing’s Platform for Action but are rather aiming to move forward and reaffirm the language previously agreed in Chapter 1:15 of the Cairo document.»

That chapter affirms that abortion was not intended to become a human right.

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