Several Nations Push Abortion at UN Women’s Conference

International   |   Timothy Herrmann   |   Mar 1, 2012   |   7:23PM   |   New York, NY

New York (LifeNews/CFAM) — Even before the UN’s annual women’s conference began this Monday, the European Union, Norway, Uruguay and Switzerland were already working to include abortion rights language in a key resolution. At least two countries, Brazil and the U.S., sent delegations to the conference led by abortion advocates.

While most attention is usually given to the radical feminist groups that attend the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the real work is done behind closed doors even before the session begins. Weeks ago countries met in closed informal meetings to prepare the resolutions currently being discussed by their delegations.

The resolution in contention covers maternal health and is sponsored by the United States. In theory, the aim of the resolution is to raise awareness about the high rates of maternal mortality experienced by women living in developing countries, and to encourage efforts to reduce those rates. In practice, however, some countries involved in closed negotiations on the resolution have been working to include an international right to abortion. The controversial terminology is “reproductive health and rights” which, in UN-speak, can mean an “international right to abortion.”

Well-placed sources tell the Friday Fax that the language continues to be controversial among countries for two main reasons. First, it detracts attention away from the main causes of maternal deaths, which are preventable with more funding and government support. Second, it politicizes maternal health, making it into an “abortion” issue when, in actuality, it is a health issue.

In addition to sponsoring the resolution, the US delegation is led by abortion advocates. The most prominent is Melanne Verveer, co-founder of Vital Voices, a group closely associated with Hillary Clinton and now U.S. Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues. Along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Verveer is on record stating that she believes abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.”

The US is not the only delegation led by abortion advocates. Brazil’s recently appointed Minister of Women, Eleonora Menicucci, heads the Brazilian delegation. Brazil maintains strict abortion laws, but both Menicucci and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff have publicly announced their support for abortion. When Menicucci was appointed Minister last February and was later announced as leading the delegation to CSW, religious leaders in Brazilian cried foul. The government was forced to apologize and reaffirm that it would not seek to change the country’s abortion laws. Nonetheless, by sending Menicucci as the head of the Brazilian delegation to CSW, the message is clear: abortion is a top priority.

During CSW, much of the attention is given to the various parallel and side events hosted by advocacy groups on different, often provocative subjects. This shifts the focus away from the negotiations that take place during the conference and that most attendees never witness. However, it is there that abortion rights advocates may have the most influence on countries involved in CSW negotiations. Note: Timothy Herrmann writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Friday Fax publication and is used with permission.