Recap of Days 2&3 at CSW63
These past few days have been extremely busy! Our team is stretched to the max attending as many events as possible, asking challenging questions, and engaging in vibrant conversations with both government officials and representatives from non-governmental organizations, who range from convicted on-side allies to radical oppositionists.
On the evening of our second day, Campaign Life Coalition co-hosted an event titled “International dialogue on achieving inclusive societies through life-affirming & family-oriented policies,” along with Mexican pro-life organizations Be Human and Construye, the Regional Observatory for Women in Latin America and the Caribbean. Guest panelists from the Brazilian Ministry of Woman, Family and Human Rights, as well as special guest Antônio Carlos Tavares De Mello, founder of Comunidade Jesus Menino, made the case that the dignity of every human being—the preborn and the disabled in particular—must be recognized and our current “throw-away” culture rejected. Over 100 people, including some Brazilian politicians and many young people of different nationalities, were in attendance.
Unfortunately, day two and three of events here at the United Nations have still been replete with anti-life sympathies. Sometimes, these thoughts and ideas are expressed blatantly without any reservations. At other times, their acceptability is simply assumed and the spectators are expected to follow along. An emergent theme that our team has recognized over and over again is the assurance that behind every message, there is another. What at first appears as a reasonable statement or goal, if pushed further, almost always includes some sort of right to abortion. The problem that our team then faces is that most of the time, no one talks about the issue of abortion directly; it is simply accepted as the presupposition of not only the speaker, but of everyone in the room. Our job then becomes all the more urgent. It is at this point that we feel compelled to do the uncomfortable thing and challenge the speakers on the assumptions that they are making.
For instance, at an event titled, “Advancing gender equality & SRHR: the role of National Human Rights Institutions,” one of our team members asked how abortion can be considered a way to advance gender equality and human rights when the destruction of an innocent human being is, in fact, a human rights violation. The moderator initially tried to prevent the panelists from answering. She asserted, falsely, that abortion hadn’t been talked about as a right, even though one panelist talked about launching a court case to expand access to abortion in Northern Ireland, another referenced “unsafe abortions,” another stated that he wanted to ensure that “every child is wanted,” and there were many references to “SRHR”—sexual and reproductive health and rights—and “reproductive justice/health,” often understood to include abortion.
However, for all their subtleties, there continues to be blatant support for abortion present at the commission, including an event, hosted by Belgium, titled “With One Voice for the Right to Abortion.” The event featured a woman from Gabon, who was a nurse turned midwife turned abortionist. It is important to note that in Gabon, abortion remains illegal. Yet, here in the place where international sovereignty and law are supposed to be of primary importance, we have a woman advertising her illegal activity without consequence. At this same event, panelists which featured a representative from International Planned Parenthood Federation and a politician from Brussels, berated national leaders who maintain pro-life policies and laws, while crushed and gushed over Ireland’s pro-abortion Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. In this same event, panelists promoted the Brussels Declaration, an abortion manifesto that calls for abortion on demand worldwide, including a call to reject any type of steps or legislation that would grant a child in the womb legal personhood.