Living 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