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Eagle Forum Capitol Alert
Aug. 15, 2002

CEDAW Updates may be found in our Quick Topics Section under CEDAW.

Contact your Senators during the August recess
Enter your zip code, then select "info" to find district offices for your Senators.
Access to Health Care under CEDAW = Abortion Rights
Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) states, "States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning."

In 1998, the UN Division for the Advancement of Women, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the World Health Organization, and the United Nations Population Fund met in Tunisia and set forth a framework to implement Article 12 of CEDAW. What was recommended?

The Problem: Discrimination in Reproductive Health Care

  • "Lack of autonomy, failure to enforce laws in women's favour, discrimination in laws such as the criminalization of abortion, inadequate allocation of health resources and failure by governments to implement remedial measures sanctioned by international agreements, all contribute to [women's] relatively poor health status in many societies."

  • "The enormous impact of gender inequality is demonstrated by the estimated 586,000 maternal deaths each year, many as the result of unsafe abortion . . . Adolescent and adult women face obstacles to fertility regulation including restricted access to information and services."

  • "In most countries women are primarily valued as mothers and the interruption of pregnancy is socially censured. Gender discrimination is a determining factor in legal, political and religious barriers to women's access to safe abortion."

The Solution: Legalize Abortion

  • "Governments and legislators should address the reality and consequences of unsafe abortion by revising and modifying laws and policies which perpetuate damage to women's health, loss of life and violation of gender equality in health care."

  • "Quantitative and qualitative research with a gender perspective can show the magnitude and impact of problems caused by unsafe abortion in specific settings. It can also demonstrate the potential for improving women's quality of life, health and survival where safe, legal abortion and post abortion care are freely available.

  • "All adolescents should have access to sexual and reproductive health education starting at an early age. They should also have access to confidential rather than judgmental sexual and reproductive health services . . . In order to change traditional male attitudes towards women, boys should be socialized to treat girls as equals at an early age . . . Quality sexual and reproductive health information and services, including emergency contraception, should be made accessible and acceptable."

Read the entire report at: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/healthr.htm

While CEDAW does not include the word "abortion," the CEDAW committee interprets Article 12 to include abortion as family planning. Countries that restrict or outlaw abortion are reprimanded and instructed to change their laws.

EAGLES TAKE ACTION: Tell your Senators to oppose ratification of CEDAW

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