As CSW66 wraps up, abortion activists call for Christians to be removed from political and social debate, in response to pro-life legislative gains
After a tumultuous two weeks of the UN’s 66th Commission on the Status of Women, it is safe to say that despite the commission’s objective to discuss climate change solutions, discussions of abortion, under the guise of “sexual and reproductive health and rights”, truly took centre stage.
On Saturday, March 19th, the International Coalition for the Abolition of Surrogate Motherhood held a parallel event discussing “gender equality” in relation to public policy and surrogacy. The first half of the event focussed on championing the “need” for the supposed “power imbalances” that are present in the relationships between men and women to be addressed through public policy. One of these supposed power imbalances is reflected in the commodification of women’s bodies through human trafficking rings. Of course, Campaign Life Coalition opposes this diabolical form of dehumanization, as human trafficking violates human persons and is an abuse of human sexuality.
The event’s speakers did, unfortunately, mention the “right” to abortion as a potential response to pregnancy in the case of a human trafficking violation, that surrogacy begets. Interestingly, one of the central points of focus during the event that was conveyed by an Indian Researcher, Dr. Sheela Saravanan, was the concept of surrogacy as a “reproductive injustice”. The moral bearing of surrogacy is akin to that of human trafficking, which is the commodification of human beings. Surrogacy transforms the creation of new life into a service whereby the bodies of women are used to nurture a child and the children created become a product of convention. Human sexuality should not be abused in this manner. Children are not commodities to be bought and sold. One event moderator, Clemence Trilling, even asserted that “surrogacy gives new rights to men” in creating a human trafficking gateway. The International Coalition for the Abolition of Surrogate Motherhood, although promoting abortion as a response to human trafficking and sexual assault, recognizes the reality that motherhood is an innate phenomenon and that surrogacy disrupts the relationship of attachment between mother and child. Tearing children from the wombs of their mothers is not a morally neutral event and the bodies of these women and their children are not commodities.
In an event on March 21st, hosted by the Swedish Member Association of IPPF (International Planned Parenthood Federation), Hans Linde, the president of RFSU, the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, introduced the event by stating that if we want to achieve complete freedom of bodily autonomy, we have to link gender equality, climate change, and SRHR. But where is this connection made? What does the climate have to do with sexual and reproductive health and rights, which as mentioned in previous reports, is an umbrella term for abortion on demand? That question was never answered, it is assumed to be intuitive. Lana Woolf, the Co-founder and Co-Director of Edge Effect, highlighted the lack of SOGIESC inclusion, a consequence of which is the breaking up of LGBTQ "families" during crises by the humanitarian system. She denounced the term "maternal health", recently used within the context of the war in Ukraine, a term which implies that only women are giving birth (excluding others such as transgender men). The denouncement of the term “maternal health” abates child-bearing women by neglecting their healthcare advancement in order to “make room” for men who want to parade as “women”. Biological males who identify as transgender women cannot bear children of their own. They are not women and do not have the necessary biological functions. Individuals who identify as transgender men, on the other hand, are biological women. We cannot begin asserting that men are capable of child-bearing. The denial of this truth is an overt offence to all women. By creating a false narrative that women are not the only ones who are capable of nurturing and birthing children with their own bodies is a diminishment of the beautiful child-bearing abilities that are unique to women. This is blatantly anti-woman.
Ilya Zhukov, a member of the adolescent and youth team at UNFPA’s sexual and reproductive health branch, said that the SRHR needs of the adolescents in Ukraine are being neglected. In his opinion, UNFPA should link CES with other services wherever possible. Why do UN NGOs consistently insist that “access to abortion” is a necessary action in the face of crisis? We know that abortion is an act of violence so, what is the reasoning whereby the violence of war and humanitarian crises be met with the further violence of abortion? Abortion does not alleviate crisis, rather, it continues the cycle of violence of which crisis induces.
Christine Gave from the Swedish Gender Equality Agency, pointed out that Sweden's Feminist Foreign Policy's agenda for change lists SRHR as its 6th objective, including the right to have autonomy over one's body and the right to “safe” and legal abortion. According to Gave, 56% of SIDA's (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) health budget is used for SRHR initiatives. If SRHR is the organization’s 6th objective, then why is over 50 percent of the budget allotted to their SRHR initiatives?
An event held on March 22nd, entitled “Democracy without Sexual and Reproductive Rights is an Empty Promise” that was organized by the Global Justice Center, paraded anti-Christian and anti-religious sentiments. The core message of the event was that with the challenging of pro-abortion legislation by pro-lifers, democracy is at risk for women who wish to have access to abortion. During the event, Melissa Upreti of UN WGDAW stated that "conservativism and religious ideologies have infiltrated the core political systems" and that "diverse religious fundamentalists often work tactically at an international level". Of course, we know, that this is a direct reference to pro-lifers who are often written-off as religious fanatics and far-right extremists. The speakers at this event made it blatantly clear that conservative, religious (specifically Christian) and pro-life views are not welcome in political landscapes nor are we welcome in international forums. However, this does not come as a surprise to us. We’ve known, for quite some time now, that our presence is threatening to pro-abortion actors seeking to enact pro-abortion laws and further the promotion of abortion since we actively challenge these objectives. As it turns out, the United Nations actually condones the views of abortion activists such as Upreti. Just this year, many pro-life organizations were in fact cancelled from ‘international forums’ such as CSW by having their parallel events denied by NGO CSW/NY, an organization that oversees all parallel events and acts a gate keeper for the United Nations. Campaign Life Coalition was told that our event ‘does not align’ with their views.
One speaker, named Andres Constantin, who’s affiliate organization was not identified, went on to state that "religion is being used as a tool to get society to change to their beliefs when society is, in consensus, opposed to the religious beliefs". It is a delusion to convey that society, as a whole, is entirely opposed to religiosity, specifically Christianity, and that it is some sort of minority. Not only did this event champion abortion but, it simultaneously promoted the barring of religious individuals from social and political realms. To end on a positive note, although ignored by the organizing parties in the event, innumerable pro-life participants, associated with ANCIFEM Mexico, made strides to challenge the event’s organizers via the open chat box. Kudos to them for speaking out!
All in all, this year’s virtual United Nations 66th Commission on the Status of Women was a whirlwind. Unfortunately, despite the closing of the commission for the year, our international battle to combat assaults on life and family do not end here. We will continue to take a stand and insert ourselves in spaces of political and social change to defend life.