Who’s Looking Out for Women?

Who is best looking out for the rights of women judging from, say, the the recently held United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women? Especially given this year’s theme of ‘violence against women,’ which is a huge concern around the world, with ongoing gendercide against baby girls and murder attempts on girls who publicly speak out on education for girls?

The Permanent Observer to the Holy See, for one.

In this connection, the Holy See has urged nations around the world to recognize women’s inalienable right “to life” and to “security,” rights articulated in the justly admired Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Isn’t it amazing that it takes a Vatican representative to call nations of the world to recognize women’s inalienable right to life? And security? Both of which are covered in the now much overlooked UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights? It’s not surprising that the Catholic Church would be taking such a prominent stance for human dignity and rights for women as well as men and children. No exceptions.

What might be surprising to most Americans are some of the additional and genuinely bold human rights positions staked out by the Holy See at this conference. These are positions likely to make more than a few developed nations more than a little uncomfortable.

“Developed” is a relative term here.

Take, for example, the Holy See’s position on health care and medicine. The Church is arguing for a “right” to basic health care in situations involving violence against women and men. Not to mention a “right” to medicines for populations which are either in danger, or unable to afford a medicine they desperately require for their health. These of course are not new positions, as Catholic institutions have been at the forefront of providing health care for victims of violence in all corners of the globe for centuries, but they are consistent positions which put people in need ahead of interests in profit.

The Holy See is also requesting global agreement to oppose forced sterilization and forced abortions.

Does this not just make every sense in the world? Can we not agree, for crying out loud, to oppose forced sterilization and forced abortion?

Apparently not, judging from the aggressive efforts of certain forces at the UN.

Over 20 groups are asking U.S. Secretary of State to end the U.S. obstruction over abortion at the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Here is the letter sent today…

And it’s embarrassing and shameful that a US Secretary of State had to be presented this letter by over 20 groups. Seriously.

Dear Secretary Kerry,

This week the United States has an opportunity to advance international efforts to prevent violence against women and girls through the UN Commission on the Status of Women. We are disturbed to learn that the U.S. delegation is, instead, exploiting this effort to insist on language that the former Secretary of State and others say includes abortion. The delegation is also not supporting language that upholds national sovereignty.

That is unacceptable.

It is especially shocking that the U.S. called for deleting a reaffirmation that every human being has the “inherent right to life, liberty and security of persons.” This contradicts a foundational principle of citizens and civilizations worldwide.

This contradicts civility, reason and basic human rights. Read that again, though it makes my country look very bad. Or the delegation representing the official US power elite at the UN.

Last year, negotiations at this same Commission failed to reach agreement because the U.S. insisted on language that has been defined as abortion without limits. The U.S. also required that the agreement not recognize that countries have a say in how policies are implemented. This principle of national sovereignty is fundamental to U.S. independence and a necessary standard for other countries as well.

This position contradicts current U.S. laws, which allow limits on abortion and bans funding abortions internationally. The U.S. delegation’s work will lead people to believe that the Administration is attempting to undermine U.S. laws through little-noticed agreements at the U.N.

Because that is what the US delegation is doing, on behalf of the Administration.

The delegations at the Commission are under exceptional pressure to reach agreement this year. It appears the U.S. is holding the agreement hostage to impose policies that violate America’s own standards. The U.S. delegation’s position risks our country’s reputation of helping women victims of violence worldwide, to replace it with abortion as the ultimate priority.

We respectfully ask that you direct the U.S. delegation to end its demand for controversial abortion-related language, and support language upholding national sovereignty.

And in the end, the protection of women’s rights and human life only won the day by joint force with developing nations that refused to be bullied.

A last ditch effort by ambassadors and top UN officials failed last night to reach agreement on policies to end violence against women because powerful western developed countries want to scrap previous agreements that do not recognize abortion as a right.

After four weeks of intense negotiations, ambassadors were brought in to negotiate the late night session. The United States and European countries raised the stakes at this year’s Commission on the Status of Women, a UN body of 45 UN member states that formulates policies for women, making agreement more elusive.

By Friday morning, the last day of the meeting, the Commission had agreed to exclude “sexual and reproductive health services” from the final agreement. The term is associated with abortion-causing drugs.

I would call this a silly game if it were only that. But it involves so much more, and worse. You won’t hear that from major ‘elite’ media.

Contrary to reports by Reuters, the Associated Press, and an unsigned New York Times editorial, no delegation participating at the commission proposed that cultural, religious, or traditional values should be used to excuse violence against women. During the week over 400 organizations wrote in support of the Holy See and nations that protect life, the family, and acknowledge the important role of cultures and religions in ending violence against women…

The agreed conclusions, which have no binding effect, are a testing ground for future UN conferences on the subject of abortion, population control, and homosexual rights. Wealthy countries want to commit African leaders to spending billions of dollars on family planning programs. Efforts are underway to influence Islamic groups on gender issues and reproductive rights. But abortion and homosexual rights’ policies have not been welcome in traditional countries.

Hold firm to your principles and values, people of goodwill and advocates of true human rights.

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Sheila Gribben Liaugminas, of Chicago, is a member of the Voices editorial board, and was host of The Right Questions on Relevant Radio and Issues and Answers news show. She and her husband have two sons, one a seminarian and the other a college student. Follow updates on this story (and contact Sheila) at www.inforumblog.com.

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