U.N. 'Abortion Rights Report' Shows How Backward the U.S. Really Is


pro-choice activists signsLiving in the often-isolated bubble that is the USA, sometimes it's hard to get perspective on what the rest of the world considers fair or legal. But occasionally, the United Nations comes along and shows we're still light years behind other countries in many ways. Such was the case when the UN recently released a report declaring that countries that restrict access to either abortion or contraception are violating women's human rights. (YES!!) And furthermore, they admonished countries that prosecute women for taking illegal drugs or drinking during her pregnancy, because it's her body, and the state has no right to it. Ultimately, they say, sexual and reproductive health are a part of a woman's overall health, and people have a right to health. Thus, we have a right to access to abortion and contraception. WOOT!

Unfortunately, as groundbreaking as it is, this report won't matter to half of Americans.

None of the Republican presidential candidates -- who just looooove to say they want "smaller government" -- will be too keen on the UN's take. They may say they want the government to stay out of their personal business, but in reality, they believe it should have MAJOR control over women's health choices. Case in point: They've been duking it out on which of them is the MOST anti-abortion. And half of Congress is hell-bent on passing legislation that brutally throws women's health under the bus in an attempt to "protect life," even if it means a mother will die on the hospital table without an abortion.

All the while, this UN report characterizes the philosophies our supposedly progressive, free-thinking, liberty-loving country should have embraced decades ago! But we haven't, though, because we're still a nation that's half-run by zealots who value "morality" over women's rights. And, yet, as the UN report reads:

Public morality cannot serve as a justification for enactment or enforcement of laws that may result in human rights violations, including those intended to regulate sexual and reproductive conduct and decisionmaking.

This point and the many others the UN report makes are so dead-on, and a declaration of this magnitude on an international scale has been a long time coming. But sadly, my hopes aren't very high that it will change some Americans' minds or provoke legislative change. Especially because this report doesn't exactly require anything of anyone -- it's merely advice -- there won't be any impetus to shift gears and value women's health over "public morality." Red state voters and politicians would prefer to violate women's human rights than bend on their religious and moral-based beliefs. But maybe, just maybe, this report will mark a victory in a greater sense, serving as a sign that although women's human rights continue to fall by the wayside in the good ol' USA, they won't on a global scale.

What do you think about the UN's report?

Image via Debra Sweet/Flickr

abortion, birth control, politics, in the news, obgyn


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

PonyC... PonyChaser

"a fetus has no rights until it is born". Unless the pregnant mother is assaulted and the fetus dies. Then the perpetrator is prosecuted for murder. You can't have it both ways.

Either the fetus is a human or it isn't. You can't pick and choose to suit your convenience, or to soothe your conscience.

Flake987 Flake987

@PonyChaser: No, pro-lifers should not adopt every child that was ever born. But the money and the effort directed at trying to protect a foetus would be better spent on social programs that allow mothers to raise their children instead of rushing to work the moment the umbilical cord is cut.

nonmember avatar India

@PonyChaser. I absolutely love your first comment, I couldn't agree more! Any mother that does drugs or heavily drinks while pregnant needs to be locked up and have their children taken away right after birth, that's just disgusting! Its not just your body anymore, if its not a life then how does it move? How does its little heart beat? How do you have the choice to take someone elses life away or make it harder(FAS, or other disabilites) the answer:you don't! You don't want kids don't have sex or use all necessary precautions, and some common since. And please don't give me the birth control fails BS yes it does but very rarely when used actually correct.

Argentina Iraheta

When I say that pro-lifers should do that, my meaning is more "if you're so preoccupied with this unborn child's right to life and are making the decision instead of the mother, then maybe you should also take care of her child -since she obviously can't make a good decision on her own" (insert sarcasm). For me it's the fact that most pro-lifers don't give a damn about what happens after the fetus is born. Welfare for a poor mother? They don't like that either. Access to government funded family planning? Nope. Health care for children of parents who don't have any? Not with their tax-payer dollars. Education? Let's cut funds to that too. At this rate, we'd have to go through screening just to even think of having sex because by their eyes having sex means you're consenting to a baby, but be damned if you need any tax-payer help to support this kid. I've heard so many people who would take away a woman's right to an abortion turn around and say "I'm not taking care of that drug-addict/rape victim/unwed mother's child with my tax-payer dollars. If she wanted a kid, she should have known what it was going to cost". I mean seriously? They complain that they don't want to care for "welfare babies" but then they turn around and say that a woman can't have an abortion -yet that only creates MORE "welfare babies". I do not get the logic here.

nonmember avatar Kristi

Why can't you anti-choice people spend the money you're throwing at the government to lobby for an end to roe vs wade on changing our foster/adoption system? Honestly my mother in law and father were both a product of that system and I was always told growing up that my dad would rather pay for my abortion then think about a helpless child in foster care. No, not all homes are horrible... but enough of them are that I don't see that as a viable option. Yes, in an ideal world men and women everywhere would want to raise the child they created together, but we don't live in an ideal world and comments like "keep your legs closed" are proof that ignorance is rampant! Accidents happen, birth control isn't 100%, even using two kinds, a pregnancy can still result. Do you really think life is going to be good for these children growing up in a home where they were never really wanted or they aren't being fed/clothed properly? Oh yeah, that's right... you DON'T care.

PonyC... PonyChaser

On the contrary, Argentina, I think that you'll find, by and large, that Pro-lifers ARE ok with Welfare for a poor mother, as long as she is working to better herself and get off of welfare, and not popping out kids every year to get more benefits. And it happens. THAT'S what they are against. Abuse of the system. They are in favor of government-funded family planning that does NOT include abortion advocacy. We ARE ok with healthcare for parents who don't have it. That's what Medicaid IS. We just don't want it to be universal, because we can see how it would fail, and quite possibly bankrupt this country. Education? Fine. As long as it's working.

What we are AGAINST, is not that these programs might be offered by the government, but that they are so rampant and often full of corruption. For example, Education. When education dollars are cut in the face of a state budget crisis, the FIRST thing that gets cut is books, classes, teachers. Are teacher/administration pensions ever considered for cuts? No. Why? Because there is more sympathy when the children suffer. Nobody is going to have much sympathy for a 55 year old teacher complaining that, now that she's retired, she has to get another job because her pension isn't enough to sustain her for the rest of her life. Especially when the taxpayer she's crying to is unemployed himself.


PonyC... PonyChaser

And yes... if you are consenting to have a baby, you ARE saying that you don't need help to raise it. Or at least that should be a HUGE consideration. What's wrong with that? WHY would anybody want to bring a baby into the world when she can't provide it? It's true... why should we be expected to pay for a child that's born to a woman who KNEW she was having unprotected sex, and wasn't ready for the consequences? (rape is entirely different) Where is the child's father? There are two able-bodied adults in the picture who should have considered the consequences. It is a fact that if you don't have sex, you don't have kids. Bottom line, if you can't afford a child, either financially or emotionally, Don't. Have. Sex.

Welfare and Medicaid were supposed to be safety nets, not lifestyles. But those programs, as well as the educational system, have grown so huge and so unweildy that they often do more harm than good. Women are being paid to stay ON Welfare, because they can't find jobs that pay more. Medicaid is riddled with fraud. The educational system in this country is a joke. And yet, you say that we should continue to throw good money after bad. All because we don't want a woman to kill her child?????

Argentina Iraheta

@PonyChaser: I point out those things because people tend to throw out the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Yes, I agree that there is abuse and corruption rampant in many government aid programs. BUT, that doesn't mean I think we should get rid of them. I'm not crying out "not with MY tax-payer dollars!" every time someone commits welfare fraud. We need to fix the system, not eliminate it. Also, you basically made my point in the second comment: women who want abortions are NOT consenting to have babies, so they are NOT saying they can raise one, but taking away their choice is forcing a child on them that they did not consent to have. And when in history did people who weren't ready for kids suddenly get denied the right to sex? Not every sexual encounter results in pregnancy. And then what of women who are raped? Where is their choice?

Argentina Iraheta

Also, I'm not saying pro-lifers should pay for everything. I'm saying that there is no logic in denying a woman the right to choose, and then denying her any help if she should need it because you made the choice for her. Many pro-lifers I have met look down on women on welfare, food stamps, or any other aid and don't think she deserves help because she opened her legs and she "asked" for what she's been given.

No matter what goes on in the world, we have one guarantee: the world isn't perfect. People are going to have kids under less than ideal conditions. Does every person with a child own a house, have a full time job, no illness or disability, and money in the bank? No, and we would be silly to require it of them. People who choose to keep or abort a fetus shouldn't have to look to anyone else for permission but themselves. I would very much appreciate it if other people kept their noses out of my life and uterus. Thank you.

PonyC... PonyChaser

First, I said that rape was a different story. I think if rape were the *only* reason for abortions, the debate wouldn't be this heated.

And second, I'm not "taking away their choice by forcing a child on them". I'm requiring them to make a choice BEFORE a child is forced on them. Why is that so unreasonable? Millions of women do it every single day. They double up on birth control. They count days and abstain during their most fertile times on top of those other birth control options, AND they ask their guy to 'pull out'. how do I know this? Fifteen years of doing exactly that. I knew that I couldn't afford a child, and there was NO way I would abort a pregnancy, so I did that. And I was "pill intolerant", so chemical birth control methods were off limits to me. I could only rely on condoms, counting days, and trusting my partner. 

Those people are not "denied the right to sex", they are denied the right to say, "oh, my bad!" and kill a child because NOW they decide that maybe sex at that time wasn't right, or sex with that guy wasn't a good idea.

21-30 of 99 comments First 12345 Last