by Stefano Gennarini, J.D..  March 12, 2013.

Lets say it plain and simple, the New York Times op-ed about the UN Commission of the Status of Women is a last gasp attempt to steer nations away from helping to end violence against women and girls, and instead promote controversial social policies.

Ending violence against women, the priority theme of this year’s meeting of the commission, is no joke. It is one of very few global challenges that 193 UN member states want to address concertedly. Why is it then that the United States and some European nations keep raising obstacles towards reaching consensus on policies to end this scourge?

The NY Times tries to paint a picture where the Holy See, Russia and Iran are the reason that negotiations, currently underway at UN headquarters, over a document that contains policies to end violence against women are stalling. That is simply false. The Holy See (not the “Vatican” – you’d think someone working at the NY Times would know that!) is the only delegation at the UN that consistently condemns all forms of violence against women, including forced sterilization and abortion, and sex-selective abortion. Most delegation, including the US and European countries don’t have qualms about ignoring these blatant human rights abuses. Instead they want to promote ambiguous terms that some countries and NGOs use as synonymous with abortion rights.

The reason negotiations are stalling at the commission isn’t because the Holy See, together with a majority of countries around the world (not just Russia and Iran), is insisting that cultures, traditions and religion should be taken into account when implementing UN policies, but because the US and some European nations (not all, by the way) are obsessed with “sexual and reproductive health” and “reproductive rights,” two terms that are controversial because they are used to mean much more than simply family planning.

“Reproductive rights” used to refer to the right to marry freely. Marriage has no longer anything to do with the terms unfortunately. The term is now used by groups that promote abortion on demand and IVF as human rights. These groups are involved in litigation in several countries to establish these so called rights. The terms are alos associated with Wealthy countries telling developing countries that they must decrease their populations by investing billion of dollars on condoms. They mean very little else if anything at all. Consider that “maternal health” is a category all to itself entirely separate from sexual and reproductive health on the WHO website (which also includes abortion as part of sexual and reproductive health). No wonder so many countries don’t like the terms.

It is not just the Holy See, Iran and Russia who oppose this excessive emphasis. It is also countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa, the Carribean, Asia, and the Middle East. They all object to this obsession of the US and European countries with sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.

Last year negotiations over a final  document of the commission on the status of women failed because the US and Norway would rather have no agreed policies to help women than recognize that countries with diverse, legal systems, cultures, traditions and religions have a say in how the policies are implemented. That paragraph is a necessary addition to any document that includes the controversial terms.

If negotiations fail again this year, it won’t be Russia or Iran’s fault, and certainly not the Holy See’s. The blame will lie squarely with the US and Europe, for failing to accept that their sexual agenda is not being adopted wholesale by the rest of the world.

Stefano Gennarini, J.D.. writes for C-FAM. This article first appeared in the Friday Fax, an internet report published weekly by C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute ( This article appears with permission.”