Abortion Advocates Plan Commemorative "Beijing +15" Reproductive Rights Push

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 23, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Abortion Advocates Plan Commemorative "Beijing +15" Reproductive Rights Push

by Lisa Giunta
July 23, 2009

LifeNews.com Note: Lisa Giunta writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Friday Fax publication.

New York, NY (LifeNews.com/CFAM) — The "NGO Committee on Women" met last week at United Nations headquarters in New York to plan commemorations marking the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Conference on Women (Beijing +15) next March.

While planning committee organizers billed the anniversary as a cause for celebration, many meeting participants voiced dismay at what they see as a lack of women’s progress since 1995 and called on their colleagues to use the anniversary to demand more from governments, particularly in the area of "sexual and reproductive health and rights."

Representatives of various feminist non-governmental organizations (NGOs) pointed out that the Beijing Conference has no legal status and that it was therefore not important to reaffirm the Beijing Conference as written. Instead, they pushed for a more "forward-thinking agenda" at the 2010 NGO Global Forum to advance women’s rights.

Cynthia Rothschild of Rutgers University’s Center for Women’s Global Leadership drew attention to the upcoming September NGO Forum to celebrate the Cairo Conference on Population and Development’s 15th anniversary in Berlin, Germany. She argued that it was important to connect the Cairo Forum’s outcome on issues of reproductive health and rights to any Beijing +15 commemoration.

The issue of maternal mortality was also raised.

Sorosh Roshan, M.D., the president of the International Health Awareness Network, asked the group, "Is this a good cause for celebration? When every year more than half a million women in the prime of their lives, they die and you’re silent about it?"

Some implied that the problem of maternal mortality was being caused by restrictions on abortion in certain countries, with another participant declaring, "More babies are living, but more women are dying."

A considerable number of the NGO representatives saw Beijing +15 as an opportunity to challenge heads of states on reproductive health. They hope to use the forum as a way to voice strong demands and to put pressure on countries that have failed to implement more liberal women’s rights reforms.

One vocal attendee summed up the restless feelings that many expressed at the planning meeting: "A review conference, a celebration, is an opportunity to move forward and really get everyone to make commitments to challenge all these heads of states – not all of them are terrific – and to say that until and unless there are national action plans, until and unless there are implementation programs, we’re still going to sit here year after year and it’s not good enough."

Critics fear that these Global Forum meetings are just the latest attempt by abortion advocates to expand the "reproductive health" provisions negotiated at the original Cairo and Beijing meetings under the guise of representing the "global" NGO community.

The 2010 NGO Global Forum for Women is set to be held on February 27-28, 2010 in New York.

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