Pakistan Takes on United Nations After Criticism of Its Abortion Laws

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 31, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pakistan Takes on United Nations After Criticism of Its Abortion Laws Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 31
, 2007

New York, NY ( — The nation of Pakistan stood up to United Nations officials recently after they questioned the Asian nation about its laws on abortion that make it illegal. The UN staff on the CEDAW committee have been attempting to influence several nations to ditch their pro-life laws and Pakistan is the latest to assert itself.

Last Friday, Pakistan appeared before the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which was concluding its two week meetings on enforcement of the document.

CEDAW officials have tried to intimidate several nations about their abortion laws, saying they should legalize abortion because of claims of thousands of women dying from illegal abortions.

Mauritania, Mozambique, Serbia, Sierra Leone and Syria were other nations who came under the harsh questioning of the UN, but Pakistan stood its ground most fiercely, according to a report from the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute.

The pro-life group lobbies at the UN and indicated in its Friday Fax that abortion is mentioned nowhere in the women’s treaty but UN officials take it upon themselves to ask about abortion anyway.

Most of the delegations questions simply answered the queries and provided information, but CFAM reports that Pakistan, undergoing its first review, told CEDAW that “abortion is considered murder once a fetus is conceived,” and defended its law allowing abortions in the rare instance when the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life.

Delegates from Sierra Leone also defended their pro-life views, saying that “children were a gift from God.”

CFAM indicated that the questions came despite an admission from CEDAW Committee Chair Dubravka Simonovic in March that the treaty is abortion-neutral and allows member nations to craft their own abortion policies.

In response to NGO questions about the CEDAW provisions on health and family planning, Siminovic said that “there is nothing about abortion in the treaty” and stressed that “the CEDAW Committee is very careful because we have to keep in mind the 185 States Parties and it is up to them to implement the provisions of the Convention.”

Still, Simonovic stated that she believes legal abortion rights are “in the spirit of the treaty.”

The pro-life group says the statements are ironic because abortion advocates in the United States, which has not ratified the treaty, use the argument that it is abortion-neutral as a way of generating support for it.

The group’s Friday Fax said that the CEDAW committee has repeatedly pressured nations to legalize abortion. Ireland was pressured by the CEDAW to legalize abortion during its last two reviews in 1999 and 2005, as was Burkina Faso in 2000, and Rwanda in 1984 and 1993, which was its last report.

The CEDAW Committee will reconvene in late July to review reports from other nations on their compliance including pro-life nations such as Brazil and Honduras.