European Governments Increasingly Bold in Demanding Abortion Rights
NEW YORK, April 1 (C-Fam) For decades abortion has been among the most controversial issues at the United Nations. Yet it is rarely mentioned by name, but alluded to in phrases like “reproductive health” or “reproductive rights.”
That changed last week. The French, Danish, and Swedish governments dropped the euphemisms and declared abortion an “essential condition” for the full realization of women’s rights at an event during the annual Commission on the Status of Women.
The event’s title cast aside any ambiguity: “Access to Abortion and Bodily Autonomy: achieving Women’s Human Right.” The moderator was the head of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), an organization that sells sexual exploitation as freedom and capitalizes on the medical consequences.
“I’ve always said that if it were men who were getting pregnant, I’m sure that two hundred years ago, abortion would have been legal,” quipped IPPF President Tewodros Melesse.
Melesse argued that being pro-abortion is to be pro-life. “We care about the woman’s life, and the child who’s coming—if they are sick, like Zika, what we are hearing—or thrown on the streets, or kidnapped, or dead. We want all alive, and healthy, and productive, and equal to all humanity. We dare to talk about abortion.”
Despite the new transparency, panelists – pro-abortion activists and representatives from the sponsoring European countries – were spared any probing challenges. Questions were collected in advance on written cards—“to hear from the largest, but not from the few,” according to Melesse, signaling his disinterest in opening a debate.
One statistic deserved challenging. Several panelists said that 13% of maternal deaths are caused by “unsafe” abortion, a claim that has been refuted by the World Health Organization, which puts the figure at 8%.
At the heart of the event was a clear contradiction: while the speakers asserted that access to abortion is a fundamental human right, they simultaneously called for nations to enact an as-yet-unrealized universal right to abortion.
Laurence Rossignol, French minister for women and the family, called for “discussions with reticent states” about abortion in cases of rape, incest, or fetal malformation. Moments later, she abandoned talk of exceptions and called for countries to commit to “fight for a universal right to abortion.”
Åsa Regnér recalled the failed attempt to create a right to abortion at UN conferences in Cairo and Beijing in the mid-1990s. “It’s a shame we cannot open the global conferences again,” the Swedish gender equality minister said, “because resistance is as big as it is, especially when we talk about sexual and reproductive health and rights, and especially when we talk about abortion.”
Religious leaders are among the staunchest opponents of abortion, several panelists said– and they intended to set these leaders straight “I have never been [religious],” Melesse said, “but I know about religion.”
“There is no religion that says [abortion] is a sin, who says a sinner should go to hell. There is always a mercy in any religion,” he asserted. “A dead body, a dead soul cannot be converted to any religion.”
Neither Melesse nor his fellow panelists addressed the conscience rights of health workers whose souls would likewise be imperiled by participating in an act they believed to be sinful. Questions on this from “the few” in the audience were not selected for discussion.