During the first week of deliberations at the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) –where, this year, delegates and nongovernment organization (NGO) representatives are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Beijing Conference on Women — the U.S. delegation offered an amendment to the draft resolution that would ratify the original Beijing Declaration. The resolution made two basic points about the Beijing Platform for Action (PFA): (1) the PFA did not designate abortion as a universal human right and (2) the PFA created no new human rights.
Chaos erupted, and the U.S. delegation was attacked from every corner except Costa Rica and the Holy See.
The head of the European Union delegation, Mady Mulheims, was “shocked” and expressed fear that there would be “no declaration and nothing to show for 10 years of efforts for women.”
During the ensuing deliberations, various nations and NGOs stated that the U.S. amendment was unnecessary since acceptance of the Beijing document does not constitute an endorsement of abortion or create any new rights. Having these statements on the record accomplished the U.S. goal of ensuring, in the words of Ambassador Ellen Sauerbrey, that no “activist NGOs in the U.S.” can “take the original language of the Beijing Declaration and put new meaning to it.”
Now having statements on record denying that the PFA supported abortion or created new human rights, the U.S. shifted to a two-pronged strategy. First, the U.S. withdrew the amendment to avoid a vote. In the moral bankruptcy of the U.N., the measure would have failed. Many would have interpreted this as an implied endorsement of abortion and other elements of the radicals’ agenda. Second, by withdrawing the resolution, the U.S. enabled the CSW to move forward and ratify the draft resolution by consensus; however, under the rules of the proceedings, any nation has the right to have its reservations appended to the resolution. The U.S. made clear that it would make a statement opposing the view that abortion constituted a universal human right and encouraged other like-minded delegations to do so as well.
It is disheartening to report but according to my count (which may not be complete given all of the commotion created by the demonstrations in the gallery) only the Vatican and Costa Rica joined the U.S. in making pro-life interventions. That is, they requested recognition of the chair and stated a reservation regarding abortion as a right.
All other interventions consisted of statements aimed at countering the pro-life view, and attempts to implicitly expand the scope of the PFA by referencing other declarations such as CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women). Despite its idealistic-sounding title, CEDAW is actually a power grab by the radicals and thus has not been ratified by the U.S. As usual, radicals couched these pro-choice, pro-quota statements in coded phrases to obscure their meaning and scope. This, of course, greatly increases the likelihood that in the future some judge could give the broadest possible interpretation (the very thing the U.S. was fighting against by its statement that the PFA did NOT create any new human rights). The two most troubling phrases were those in support of: (1) ensuring “a woman’s right to complete control of her sexuality,” and (b) advancing “the mainstreaming of gender equality.”
“A Woman’s Right to Complete Control of Her Sexuality”: It is important to understand all that is implied by the radicals’ interpretation of the phrase “a woman’s right to complete control of her sexuality.” First, it obviously means that a woman or even a young female minor has a right to have access to abortion on demand. Furthermore, it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that access is available by funding the cost of abortions and by requiring that health care providers include abortion among their services or lose their license to operate. It also means that doctors who refuse to perform abortions could lose their positions on hospital staffs or even lose their right to practice medicine. Second, it means that prostitution should be legal, and the status of “sex worker” should be recognized and protected like any other profession. This would greatly weaken the possibility of prosecuting sex traffickers.
“The Mainstreaming of Gender Equality”: The tentacles of the provision are too numerous to enumerate here. Most importantly, this phrase means the adoption of preferences and mandatory quotas in all phases of social and political life – note I did not say preferences mandating “equal representation for women” but equal “gender” representation (which leaves the door open for the many varieties of “gender.”) The scope and intrusiveness envisioned by the slogan are beyond belief, extending even into family decisions about the sharing of household tasks and resources. Already Iraqi women are rejoicing about their goal of 55 percent representation of women in governing bodies and national leadership positions.
Consider for a moment the consequences of such provisions. Most women, who are busy caring for the needs of their families, do not have the inclination or the time needed to serve in such positions, which would take them away from their families for extended times. As a result, that leaves the field open to: (a) the privileged elites who have abundant leisure time to dabble in the exercise of power and (b) the radicals whose consuming passion in life is forcing those in the mainstream to not only accept, but to approve of, their deviant values and lifestyles.
As proof of my point, look at the radicalization of the Democratic party in the U.S. since it instituted mandatory quotas for various interest groups (women, minorities, etc.) during the last 35 years. And look at what has happened to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women as well. Seeing militant harassment of the U.S. delegation (whose only offense was a principled stand for the rights of the unborn) made me cringe and fear for the future. Certainly there is no hope for the morally bankrupt U.N. to serve as a defender of freedom and justice. Witness the Oil-for-Food scandal and the unchecked sexual exploitation of women and children by U.N. peacekeepers.
Under the savvy leadership of Ambassador Ellen Sauerbrey, the Bush administration has taken a hard-line, principled stance. Concerned Women for America’s representatives are an important part of the pro-life and pro-family coalition, whose presence and influence provides a much-needed counter balance to the numerous NGOs who lobby for the radical feminist agenda. Though we are greatly outnumbered, by the grace of God we once again averted disaster.
In this struggle, though, there is no such thing as a decisive victory; there is only a lull before the next battle.
Another week of CSW is yet to come, where the pro-life, pro-family team’s vigilance and wisdom will be equally important.
Dr. Janice Crouse analyzed the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995 and she has worked on women’s issues ever since. You can read her articles on the CWA Web site – www.cwfa.org.