CEDAW Report Pressures Nations on Abortion as Congress Holds Hearing

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 18, 2010   |   4:20PM   |   Walla Walla, WA

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (“CEDAW”) released its concluding observations for its 47th session, which was held in Geneva from October 4th through the 22nd of October, 2010. 

Concluding observations were released for Burkina Faso, the Czech Republic, India, Malta, Tunisia, and Uganda.

Listed below are the sections from each of the observations that promote abortion, contraception, and sex ed for youth:

Uganda:  CEDAW blames high maternal mortality rates on “clandestine abortions,” says Ugandan women have limited access to quality reproductive and sexual health services, and asserts that existing sex education programs are insufficient.  (p. 9)  CEDAW recommends that sex ed be “widely promoted” and “targeted” at adolescent girls and boys.  (p. 10)  CEDAW also expresses concern that the sexual and reproductive rights of women with disabilities are not protected. (p. 12)

Tunisia:  CEDAW expresses concern regarding alleged reports of “discrimination” in Tunisia against single women who attempt to access abortion services.  CEDAW also “requests the strengthening and expansion of efforts to increase knowledge of and access to affordable contraceptive methods throughout the country,” and says that Tunisia should “ensure that single women do not face barriers in accessing abortion services.”  CEDAW further recommends that “sex education be widely promoted and targeted at adolescent girls and boys.” (p. 11)

Malta:  CEDAW says there is “insufficient access to reproductive health-care services for women,” and complains that sexual and reproductive health and rights are not part of the “curriculum” in Malta.  CEDAW criticizes Malta for its laws that make abortion illegal in all cases.  Below is the paragraph that criticizes Malta for its abortion policies:

The Committee calls on the State party to increase its efforts to improve the availability of sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, to mobilize resources for that purpose and to monitor the actual access to those services by women.  It  further recommends that the National Policy on Sexual Health, which is being finalized, ensure that family planning and reproductive health education are widely promoted and targeted at girls and boys, with special attention to the prevention of early pregnancies of underage girls including the control of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. 

The Committee urges the State party to review its legislation on abortion and consider exceptions to the general prohibition of abortion for cases of therapeutic abortion and when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.  It further urges the State party to remove from its legislation the punitive provisions for women who undergo abortion, in line with the Committee’s general recommendation 24 on women and health and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

Czech Republic:  CEDAW recommends that the Czech Republic “accelerate the adoption of a law on patients’ rights, including women’s reproductive rights.” (p. 9)

Burkina Faso:  CEDAW “reiterates its serious concern about sexual and reproductive health” in Burkina Faso.  Burkina Faso is praised for its efforts to increase the availability of family planning services, “including the promotion of training of health professionals so that they adequately inform women of their pregnancy as a result of personal choice.”  CEDAW says it is concerned about the “high number of unintended pregnancies and the increase in the birth rate by 3.8% in one year.” (p. 8-9). It blames the maternal mortality rate on “clandestine abortions,” and calls on Burkina Faso to reconsider its criminalization of abortion.  (p. 9)

LifeNews.com Note: Seana Cranston writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s UN blog publication and is used with permission.