Communications Department

NRLC Letter to U.S. Senate on “The Sweeping Pro-Abortion Mandates of CEDAW”

Jul 15, 2002 | International

July 15, 2002


RE: the sweeping pro-abortion mandates of CEDAW

Dear Senator:

The Committee on Foreign Relations is scheduled to vote on July 18 on a resolution of approval on the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) strongly opposes ratification of CEDAW, because of the sweeping pro-abortion mandates that this treaty incorporates — mandates that have long been acknowledged by prominent CEDAW advocates and enforcers.

The CEDAW explicitly obligates ratifying nations to ensure equal access to “health care services, including those related to family planning,” and says that parties shall ensure that men and women have “the same rights to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children.” These and other provisions have been construed, both by official bodies and by legal activists supporting CEDAW, to condemn any restrictions on abortion.

The “gender bias” approach to promoting abortion condemns any limits on abortion, including parental involvement laws regarding minors, limits on late-term abortions, etc., since all such laws “apply only to women.” Indeed, the official UN CEDAW compliance committee has criticized various nations for applying or tolerating limits on access to abortion. For example, in 1998 the CEDAW monitoring committee criticized Croatia for “the refusal, by some hospitals, to provide abortions on the basis of conscientious objection of doctors. The committee considers this to be an infringement of a woman’s reproductive right.”

As recently as July 3, the European Parliament narrowly voted to adopt a sweeping report calling for removal of all limitations to abortion by current European Union members such as Ireland, Spain and Portugal, and by nations seeking membership, such as Poland and Malta. The report cited CEDAW as grounds for its assertion that there is an “international legal framework” under which all European Union nations should recognize abortion as a “fundamental right.”

Moreover, pro-abortion law professors and litigators have argued that President Bush’s policy of not funding foreign organizations that perform or promote abortion as a method of family planning (the “Mexico City Policy”) is in violation of the principles of CEDAW. If the Senate gives its consent to CEDAW, such groups will use CEDAW as a basis for a new legal challenge to the Mexico City Policy.

That would be just the beginning. Numerous enactments by Congress and the states would be subject to attack under CEDAW – for example, the Hyde Amendment, which since 1976 has barred federal funding of abortion (with narrow exceptions).

For these reasons, NRLC urges you to vote “No” on consenting to CEDAW. In its scorecard of key votes for the 107th Congress, NRLC will negatively score a vote in favor of ratification, and such a vote will be accurately described as a vote to undermine all limitations on abortion, including restrictions on late-term abortions, parental consent laws, and conscientious objector protections for health care providers.




Douglas Johnson

Legislative Director

Categories: International