CEDAW Should Promote Women, Human Rights, Not Abortion

Opinion   Bill Saunders   Nov 24, 2010   |   2:21PM    Washington, DC

From its inception, the abortion industry has employed euphemisms to recast abortion as something other than the gruesome, harmful procedure that it is. 

Its linguistic tricks have a purpose more nefarious than altering public perception; playing games with words, abortion forces seek to create an expansive legal “right” to abortion in documents that were drafted to promote human dignity.

The distortion of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is one example where the abortion lobby’s efforts have seen success. 

This human rights treaty, adopted by the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly in 1979, has a laudable goal, as its name suggests, to end discriminatory practices towards women.  However, to the detriment of women, the UN committee charged with offering guidance on the obligations incumbent upon nations that have ratified CEDAW has repeatedly used the treaty to advance an abortion agenda.

Nowhere in CEDAW is a “right” to abortion mentioned.  However, from 1995 to 2009, the CEDAW Committee’s “observations” and “recommendations” have sought to pressure 83 nations to legalize abortion and expand “access” to it. 

Last week, the United States Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law held a hearing on the treaty, which President Jimmy Carter signed in 1980, but the Senate has never ratified.  Americans United for Life has submitted a statement to the Judiciary Committee opposing the ratification of CEDAW.

The CEDAW Committee takes a more aggressive stance on what the abortion “right” entails than even our liberal courts have. 

For example, in its review of Croatia in 1998, the Committee announced it was “particularly concerned…about information regarding the refusal, by some hospitals, to provide abortions on the basis of conscientious objection of doctors.”  In the eyes of the Committee, CEDAW requires that abortion not only be legal, but that nothing should stand as a barrier to access – including the conscience rights of health care providers who object to participating in the procedure.  Pro-abortion forces will argue the U.S. is obligated to follow CEDAW on this point.

Sadly, as the Ramsey Colloquium – a discussion group of theologians, philosophers, and ethicists convened by the late Fr. Richard Neuhaus – observed on the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the human rights document that is the foundation for CEDAW and other human rights treaties, today “Human rights are threatened in the name of human rights.”