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


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Flake987 Flake987

So if a woman ends up pregnant (which was entirely possible) even after all the same precautions you took, why shouldn`t she have the option to abort a baby when she did everything possible to avoid conceiving it?

It`s like every time you drive you take a risk. Would you stop driving?

Flake987 Flake987

And after all, the main argument is: it`s my body, my choice.

Argentina Iraheta

It's funny that you're talking at me like I would run out and get an abortion today if I got pregnant. I KNOW it is possible to have sex for years and not get pregnant. I've been doing it that way for seven years with no babies running around -YET. I have also known women who take the same precautions you say to take who DID end up pregnant. Most kept their kids, some didn't. I had a scare once, and I weighed my options until the pee stick gave me a negative. I don't like the idea of not having options. Not every woman out in the world that is sexually active is like you or me. As many people will say, shit happens. Just because you wouldn't get an abortion, it doesn't make you an authority over the body of a complete stranger. If you get pregnant and keep the child, that is great and I would respect your choice, but please don't condemn me if I make a different one.

PonyC... PonyChaser

"I would very much appreciate it if other people kept their noses out of my life and uterus. Thank you."

I'm guessing, then, that you are against anti-smoking laws, the restrictions on salt, the city of SAn Francisco banning toys in Happy Meals... and a bunch of other uber-invasive laws that are cropping up all over the country? Because it's all the same thing, isn't it? You want the freedom to choose what is best for you.

As to the other part of your comment (we were both posting at the same time)... I don't think anyone demands that a woman be able to provide a comfy home and a picket fence for her child. But I think it is reasonable to expect that she be able to care for that child, without expecting the state to step in from the get-go.

And again, I ask, where is the father? We shouldn't be talking about just the woman, here. Yes, it's her body. But that child is half his. Where are HIS rights in all of this? Why are they summarily dismissed? Shouldn't he be able to say, "no, you can't abort, I will take the child"? I'm guessing your answer will be no.

This is why I say that the choice happens BEFORE sex. BEFORE the child is conceived. Abortion shouldn't even need to be a consideration, unless something goes wrong with the pregnancy, or if there is rape. All of those things should be considered BEFORE the child is conceived. If you're not ready to have a child, prevent it.

nonmember avatar k

Anti-choicers are disgusting plain and simple. I don't care if the woman is sharing her body. IT'S HER BODY. Her body first and formost and her wants and needs come before the potential life. She gets to choose whether she shares her nutrients with the fetus. She gets to choose whether she has the morning sickness. She gets to choose whether she risks her life in childbirth. HER CHOICE.

When you carry an equal burden you get an equal say. Lol at "don't have sex" how unrealistic. I bet half the people that preach that also tell women they need to have sex with their husbands for a healthy marriage.

When you are done having kids, YOU go tell your s/o that you are done with sex. Let me know how that works out.

Sex is one of the strongest human urges and means alot more than reproduction to alot of people and it's unrealistic to expect people to just stop. Even if they are irresponsible, they don't have to be pregnant if they don't want to. Seriously. Anti-choicers need a good punch

PonyC... PonyChaser


I will apologize in advance if I am not able to return to this conversation. My "time off" is coming to a close. I enjoyed debating this with you, Argentina.

nonmember avatar K

And to the previous poster, NO fathers DON'T get a say because again, they don't have an equal burden.

Tell ya what. If the man overrules the woman's decision to get abortion and she dies during labor, I say we offer him up for execution.

You know what we get when we allow other people (including father's) to have an equal say in abortion? Women are property. Rapists can impregnate a woman and make her carry their child. And all kinds of other crazy stuff that anyone with imagination and common sense can come up with.

I can't believe people can look at their daughters even and think they would want their daughters to have so little power over their bodies and reproductive choices. Sick.

Flake987 Flake987

@PonyChaser: ''I'm guessing, then, that you are against anti-smoking laws, the restrictions on salt, the city of SAn Francisco banning toys in Happy Meals... and a bunch of other uber-invasive laws that are cropping up all over the country? Because it's all the same thing, isn't it? You want the freedom to choose what is best for you.''

(Don't mean to butt in :) ) Personnally, I am and I do. An adult should be able to make all those choices for himself.

PonyC... PonyChaser

And by "prevent it", I mean... don't have sex, if you don't trust all of the other options available to you. Sex is not a basic need for survival. It's not like food or water. Yes, it's pleasurable. But it is not necessary. Plenty of people are celibate for plenty of reasons, and they do just fine. All I am asking is that people consider their situation BEFORE they are left "without options".

Argentina Iraheta

Whatever my opinion on those laws may be is irrelevant to the argument at hand because they are not the same. I'll humor you. If someone is smoking directly next to me while I wait for the bus, I am inhaling their second-hand smoke. When a anti-smoking laws are passed it's not because they want to take away some one's right to a cigarette (if that were true they would make it illegal), it's because they are protecting the rights of non-smokers to breathe fresh air.

And while I believe in the rights of the father, the sad truth is that the father is absent in many cases for whatever reason. Also, the man is not the one giving up 9 months (minimum) of his life up to give birth to the child in question.

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