At a meeting held late last month at UN headquarters, women's rights advocates discussed plans to strengthen the "legal backbone" of the UN women's rights treaty, including establishing abortion on demand for women and girls as an internationally recognized human right, reported the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute.
According to a UN press release, the committee charged with monitoring nations' compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) invited nongovernmental organizations, including the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), to advise the committee in the drafting of a new "general recommendation" on states' international legal obligations to end discrimination.
A representative of CRR, Pardiss Kebriaei, told the committee that "states must recognize the physical demands and need for high-quality reproductive care. Imposing or failing to remove barriers to women's access to family planning and safe abortion services discriminated against
women. Among other measures, States should enact laws allowing abortion without restriction, take other legal and policy measures to ensure the accessibility of high-quality abortion services and the full range contraceptive methods."
Kebriaei went on to say that "abortion without restriction" should be available to girls, declaring that, "government failure to ensure reproductive health information and services for adolescents had a disproportionate, discriminatory effect on girls."
CRR was one of only four NGOs invited to participate in the meeting, signaling the group's powerful influence with the committee.
If the new CEDAW general recommendation includes this CRR proposal, it would represent an important victory for the group in its effort to create new international abortion law through the reinterpretation of the original CEDAW convention document.
According to the UN press release, the committee chairperson, Ayse Feride Acar, endorsed the "all embracing approach" proposed by the NGOs. She concluded by stating that "the discussion had helped to define the parameters of the general recommendation."
The next step in the process of drafting the recommendation has not yet been scheduled.