UNITED NATIONS: by Babette FrancisNews Weekly
Voices for the unborn heard at UN session
, April 4, 2009
Developing countries are constantly under pressure from the West to legalise abortion, writes Babette Francis.There was a feeling of déjà vu when Norwegian State Secretary, Hakon Gulbrandsen, declaimed at this year's UN session on the status of women: "Sexual rights are a cornerstone to gender equality - safe abortion is a crucial component of sexual and reproductive rights."
We have been hearing this from the EU and Canada for the past 15 years, and now we are also hearing it from the US delegation, which during the previous Bush presidency had been pro-life.
The UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) held its 53rd session during the first two weeks of March, its theme this year being "The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including care-giving in the context of HIV/AIDS".Parallel events
Participation in the CSW is by government-appointed delegations from UN member countries; but non-government organisations (NGOs) accredited to the UN's Economic and Social Council hold "parallel events", i.e., workshops with their own speakers.
This provides the opportunity for pro-life organisations to lobby government delegations, because underlying the theme adopted by the CSW is a battle between those holding to a pro-life and pro-family vision as opposed to countries and NGOs promoting abortion and homosexual "rights".
During the CSW session, member-countries' delegates work paragraph by paragraph on a draft document which is adopted by consensus and is then sent to the UN General Assembly for adoption.
What pro-lifers watch for, and try to eliminate by lobbying delegates, are phrases such as "sexual and reproductive rights", which are code words for the promotion of abortion, artificial contraception, condom distribution, permissive sex education and homosexuality.
At a US briefing, one of the delegates was Ellen Chesler, author of an admiring biography of the founder of Planned Parenthood International, Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America
(Simon & Schuster, 2007).
Chesler said it was one of the Obama Administration's priorities to ensure that the CSW document included an international right to abortion. When reminded by Endeavour Forum representative Molly White about the scientific evidence of the detrimental effects of abortion on women, Chesler dismissed the remark, stating that the evidence is "unreliable because it has ideological elements".
UN documents are adopted on a basis of consensus, and the battle over the final document this year is regarded by pro-life NGOs as "a draw", because small pro-life countries such as Malta gallantly opposed anti-life phraseology. The only mention of "sexual and reproductive health and services" is in one paragraph dealing with HIV prevention.
However, there are several mentions of the importance of devising family-friendly policies, and of measuring "in quantitative and qualitative terms, unremunerated work that is outside national accounts, in order to better reflect its value in such accounts, and recognise and take necessary measures to incorporate the value and cost of unpaid work within and between households and society at large in policies, strategies, plans and budgets across all relevant sectors...".
The CSW document included several idealistic paragraphs about shared responsibilities between men and women, eliminating violence and coerced sex, and financial equality between women and men.
But, in the context of providing accurate education on HIV/AIDS, there was no mention of abstinence education. This is a serious omission as the World Health Organisation has finally acknowledged that HIV/AIDS is primarily a disease of homosexual men and intravenous drug-users. Recent data show that the incidence of HIV is even greater in Washington DC than in some African countries.
Molly White chaired an NGO workshop on post-abortion grief; Endeavour Forum's Canadian representative Denise Mountenay chaired a workshop dealing with the link between abortion and breast cancer; and the Catholic Women's League of Australia convened a workshop on "The Health of Mothers". Speakers were breast surgeon Dr Angela Lanfranchi and Dr Joel Brind, professor of endocrinology.
Mrs Eve Silver, a Taino Latina native American director of Clear Research, also spoke of her own abortion, the subsequent development of breast cancer and her mastectomy.
Other sponsors of the Endeavour Forum workshops included Concerned Women for America, Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, REAL (Realistic, Equal, Active, for Life) Women of Canada, Dr Allan Carlson's Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society, and the JMJ Children's Fund.Determined
Denise Mountenay, who herself has suffered after having had abortions, said "Abortion is a wrong and not a right - we are determined that our voices will be heard on the national and international level.
"Millions of women who've had abortions are hurting all over the world as a result, and millions of innocent children are dead. That is why we are here to be their voices. Together as a coalition we will change hearts, minds, laws and history."
A delegate from Nigeria responded: "My nation and many other African nations are constantly under pressure to legalise abortion. I thank God for you, for now we have hope".- The author Babette Francis, B.Sc. (Hons), is co-ordinator of Endeavour Forum Inc.