Published June 05, 2002
U.N. bureaucrats are at it again, critics say — this time with a plan for an international treaty on women's rights.
So what's wrong with the idea of guaranteeing women equal rights? It's all in the fine print, according to opponents of the agreement who see it as an attempt by the U.N. to interfere with domestic U.S. politics.
"This committee has reprimanded Mexico for having a lack of access to easy and swift abortion, has reprimanded Luxembourg for 'promoting a stereotype of men being the breadwinners of families,'" said Wendy Wright of the Concerned Women for America, a Washington-based activist group. "It's like the Equal Rights Amendment on steroids."
The United States is currently considering ratifying the treaty, so the U.S. Senate could hold hearings on the matter within the next week. It will be discussed under its formal name, the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Those who want the treaty passed say it's nothing more sinister than a genuine effort to give women the rights they deserve, especially in the developing world.
"The right to healthcare, the right to education, the right to participate effectively in political decision making, the right to property and the right to vote … These are the fundamental human rights," said Leila Milani of the Coalition for Equal Rights.
Opponents of the treaty are particularly irked by the way it would be enforced. A committee will periodically sit at the United Nations with every state that has signed on and lean on those it thinks aren't moving fast or far enough.
Some American critics gripe loudest at what they call the convention's pro-abortion tone.
"It reprimanded Italy for allowing doctors to not participate in abortions out of conscientious objections," said Wright, "so this treaty goes far beyond the idea of trying to stop discrimination against women."
As far as this treaty is concerned, the word family planning does not include abortion. And this treaty is abortion-neutral.
The State Department has not voiced any objections to the treaty, and the Bush White House has remained silent on it. But that may change, with both sides hoping the Senate hearings will force the administration to take a stand.
Fox News' Heather Nauert contributed to this report.