March 31st 2007

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Red Star over East Timor

EDITORIAL: Melbourne Cup field in Timor's Presidential election

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Time running out for John Howard?

FINANCE: Concerns over US company behind Qantas takeover

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Australia's foreign debt - myth and reality

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Brian Burke's shadow government

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Why must the show go on? / Another wake for absent friends / Reluctance to condemn Mugabe / Musical chairs / More heat than light


DRUG POLICY: Sweden's success in combating drug use

UNITED NATIONS: Dilemma for pro-abortion feminists

OPINION: The narcotic of narcissism

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Mothers in the military

CINEMA: Where Hollywood fears to tread - Mel Gibson's 'Apocalypto'

THE ARGUS: Life & Death of a Newspaper

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Dilemma for pro-abortion feminists

by Babette Francis

News Weekly, March 31, 2007
Radical feminists at a recent United Nations conference expressed dismay that abortion-on-demand disproportionately victimises females, reports Babette Francis.

Every year in March, the United Nations has a two-week Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) session on women's issues. The session usually concludes with an interminable debate about "reproductive rights", and this year's (the 51st) was no exception.

Radical feminists subscribe to an overriding verity: abortion on demand is fundamental to "women's rights".

However, feminists have been mugged by an unpleasant reality: the overwhelming number of abortions in the world are of female foetuses, victims of sex-selection abortions.

So non-government organisation (NGO) feminists at the UN have come up with a new most estimable slogan: killing a "girl child" in the womb is "the most extreme form of violence against women".

Contradictory positions

Their remaining problem is how to reconcile the contradictory positions of calling for unrestricted abortion while deploring the abortion of female foetuses.

At CSW 51, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) supported a resolution banning sex-selection abortions.

One of UNIFEM's publications on eliminating violence against women begins with an acknowledgment that the abortion of females is violence against women and girls:

"The range of violence against women and girls is devastating, occurring quite literally from womb to tomb. It includes: abortion of female babies."

Another UN document tacitly admits the humanity of unborn girls by identifying the abortion of girls as "violence". The lament for "missing" girls is prevalent throughout UN headquarters in New York on posters, brochures and books.

India tops the list for sex-selection abortions and female infanticide. At CSW 51, Indira Patel, a global expert on harmful cultural practices, said 96 per cent of aborted foetuses in India are female. In some areas, there are nearly two boys born for every girl, since 20 million female foetuses have been aborted over the last 10 years.

Julia Motoc, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, said most countries have laws prohibiting sex-selection abortions, but when the culture allows for it, the laws are not enforced. In India, genetic testing for sex-selection, though illegal, has become a booming business. Women's groups have protested against the gender-detection clinics that advertise aborting a female foetus.

Given the looming shortage of females, China is also set to criminalise sex-selection abortions. Chinese researchers predict there will be 40 million unmarried men in China by 2020. The United Kingdom has outlawed "sex-selection for social reasons", but how will this be reconciled with "abortion on demand"?

Following a groundswell of support from NGOs across the political spectrum and many national delegations at CSW 51, the US sponsored a resolution calling on states to eliminate prenatal sex-selection and female infanticide; but the resolution was withdrawn due to pressure from China, India, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico and others.

China and India lobbied against the resolution because, even though it focused on the global nature of the problem, they believed it would draw attention to the fact that theirs are the worst cases of female infanticide and sex-selected abortions. Demographers estimate about 100 million girls are already "missing".

The Canadian delegation worked energetically to derail the resolution by loading the draft document with language unacceptable to the US. A European NGO claimed that in their meetings with EU officials they were briefed that some European states objected to the proposed sex-selection ban because they opposed condemning any abortions. That dilemma again!

South Korea, one of the countries that has experienced alarming demographic imbalance, has been the only country to successfully reverse the trend after launching special "Love Your Daughter" awareness campaigns. Of all the countries in which "son preference" is high, South Korea was the only country to co-sponsor the US resolution.

Several scholars and practitioners have produced evidence that sex-selection is linked to organised crime, rape, kidnapping and trafficking of women and girls.

The US withdrew its resolution, but at the conclusion of negotiations on the CSW 51 document, agreement was reached on the inclusion of a brief paragraph which refers to "all forms of discrimination against the girl child and the root causes of son preference, which result in harmful and unethical practices regarding female infanticide and prenatal sex selection, which may have significant repercussions on society as a whole" (our emphasis added).

So at long last, the stranglehold of pro-abortion feminists and population-controllers on UN policy development may be weakening.

- Babette Francis is national and international coordinator of Endeavour Forum Inc., which organised two workshops at CSW 51.

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