U.S. Drops Anti-Abortion Amendment at Beijing+10

Confusion, Misinformation Afflict Delagates

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UNITED NATIONS, MARCH 4 (Zenit.org).- No new international right to abortion can be implied from the United Nation's plan of action for women's rights, said a U.S. representative to a conference on women's equality.



Ambassador Ellen Sauerbrey said in a press conference today that the United States dropped a proposed anti-abortion amendment aimed to prevent any interpretation of the Beijing Platform of Action to include a right to abortion because it "is clear that there was no intent on the part of states supporting the Beijing documents to create new rights ... including the right to abortion."

The declaration was drafted at the 1995 U.N. international conference on women in Beijing. Beginning this week in New York, a meeting of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, referred to as Beijing+10, is reviewing the progress made in achieving its goals.

Satisfied that the overall understanding of the document does not include this right, Sauerbrey announced U.S.-support for the reaffirmation of the Beijing declaration.

Although the amendment was dropped, the United States "achieved what they came to achieve," said Sauerbrey at the end of the first week of the two-week meeting.

JoEllen Murphy, representing the United States Pro-Family Coalition, reported to ZENIT that the United States didn't have "that clarification that the Beijing Platform for Action does not give a right to abortion, nor does it create any new international human rights."

She said the "reason for introducing the amendment was to address real domestic concerns that the United States has about there being a considerable amount of migration of language surrounding the Beijing document over time."

"Now a variety of nation states are in agreement that there is no need for the amendment," she said, "because that is the way they already view the document, as not creating a new human right for abortion."

The amendment was "perceived as redundant," Murphy said.

Murphy says that this is considered as a success for the pro-life movement and said that it built morale following yesterday's events that upset many delegates.

According to Murphy, "the United States had requested an informal meeting to see where the countries stood on the declaration."

"The chair – who has the power to recognize whom they wish – only recognized major blocks of countries such as the European Union, who all spoke out against it," said Murphy.

"This left no time for further discussion, so delegations waving their flags in favor of the declaration, like The Holy See and Pakistan, were ignored by the chair," she said.

Murphy told ZENIT that this unbalanced representation of voices affected the delegations, creating confusion.

Other elements frustrating delegates included language barriers, especially in informal meetings where translators are not provided, and poor information distribution.

"I spoke with the head delegate for Nigeria and he told me that he had not even seen the declaration yet and this was Thursday – the end of the first week," said Murphy.

Additionally, "numerous countries are unaware of how an international human right can be achieved over time merely through migration of language into customary international law."