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U.S. to UN: All your wombs should belong to us


Boos and catcalls greeted U.S. delegate to the UN Ellen Sauerbrey’s remarks.

Chimpy’s “womb God Squad,” led by UN delegate Ellen Sauerbrey, tried to strong-arm an amendment that would not recognize abortion as a fundamental right for women, threatening to withdraw our country’s re-affirmation of the landmark Beijing Platform for Action. The agreement, developed with the full endorsement of the U.S., ten years ago, marked the commitment of 189 countries to advancing universal education for girls, ending violence against women, and ensuring access to reproductive health care.

That re-commitment shouldn’t be controversial, but the U.S. wants to export its AmTaliban agenda to the world body — apparently the world body of women) — when it comes to reproductive rights. This one time it thankfully failed. (Reuters):

Jeers and catcalls greeted the top U.S. delegate to a global women’s conference on Friday as she stressed Washington’s opposition to abortion and support for sexual abstinence and fidelity.

After withdrawing an unpopular anti-abortion amendment from a key U.N. document, the United States joined in approving the declaration that reaffirmed a 150-page platform agreed 10 years ago at a landmark U.N. women’s conference in Beijing. The final approval prompted cheers, applause and a standing ovation by some participants.

However, top U.S. delegate Ellen Sauerbrey drew boos from the audience, which included some of the 6,000 activists who came from around the world, when she commented on Washington’s interpretation of the document. “We have stated clearly and on many occasions … that we do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our reproductive health assistance,” Sauerbrey said.

The loudest catcalls, unusual at the world body, came when she articulated U.S. policy on AIDS prevention for adolescents: “We emphasize the value of the ABC — abstinence, be faithful, and correct and consistent condom use where appropriate — approach in comprehensive strategies to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS and the promotion of abstinence as the healthiest and most responsible choice for adolescents.”

The first version of the abandoned amendment said the Beijing meeting’s final document did not recognize abortion as a fundamental right; a later version said the document did not create any new international human rights, code for abortion.

“We think we have really accomplished what we set out to do,” Sauerbrey said. “We have heard from countries … that our interpretation is their interpretation. So the amendment we recognize is really redundant, but it has accomplished its goals. We will be withdrawing the amendment.”

Despite U.S. lobbying, support for Washington’s abortion stance was limited to the Vatican, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. Mary Ann Dantuono, the Vatican delegate, was interrupted by shouts when she said the Catholic Church “would have preferred a clearer statement emphasizing that the Beijing documents cannot be interpreted as creating new human rights including the right to abortion.”

Delegates from the European Union, Asia and Africa forcefully opposed the U.S. position. “The text of Beijing is unequivocally clear. We should not spend hours splitting hairs over phrases that mean the same thing,” said New Zealand’s U.N. Ambassador Don Mackay, speaking for his country, Canada and Australia. He said the Beijing document included a woman’s right to control her sexuality

That 1995 commitment to women’s fundamental rights seems so yesterday, doesn’t it? Boy have things changed around these parts in ten years, with our Dear Leader in charge. How far away is a statement on the need for women to be “barefoot and pregnant” again? Or for our sexual histories to be accessible to the state? Oh wait, scratch that one. They are working on that in Kansas.

The attempt to roll back all sorts of rights has been boldly and unashamedly pursued by this White House. Seeing this happen on the world stage is both embarrassing and frightening.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding