(CNSNews.com) – A coalition of 430 groups, including Planned Parenthood and NARAL, led by the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion recently sent a letter to the United Nations asking that Sept. 28 be made an official UN “Safe Abortion Day” at this year’s UN General Assembly in September.
The letter was sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the heads of UN Women, UN Development Programme, World Health Organization, UN Population Fund, UN Children’s Fund, UNAIDS, and UNESCO.
The letter explained that “28 September was declared an international day of action for the decriminalization of abortion in 1990 by the women's health movement and has been celebrated annually ever since.”
The letter outlined past September 28th activities, which “have included reports, articles, interviews on radio and TV, videos, marches, rallies, demonstrations, public meetings, discussion days, street theatre, flashmobs, surveys, opinion polls, art exhibitions, film showings, and music evenings.”
“In the past 5-10 years, a growing number of UN human rights bodies – including CEDAW, the Committee against Torture, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Committee on Civil and Political Rights, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, the UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and practice (UN Working Group), and the African Commission for Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) – have called for abortion to be made safe and on a growing list of grounds, also legal,” the organizations wrote.
“The human rights issues are also compelling,” the groups claimed. “Women and/or abortion providers are being prosecuted for abortion in: Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Dubai, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Nepal, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, Spain, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and USA.”
“Yet, as many as one in three women globally has an abortion in her lifetime,” they emphasized. “We are not criminals. None of us should be prosecuted for something that is a central fact of being a woman.”
“We therefore call on you,” they concluded, “as UN agencies whose work touches on women's health and rights in so many ways, to send a strong signal to the international community and to all our governments, with a simple but highly symbolic statement of support for safe abortion, by agreeing to make International Safe Abortion Day, 28 September, an official UN day.”
"Safe abortion is an essential health service for women. Would anyone today deliberately withhold effective HIV treatment or safe contraception from people who need them? Why, then, is it still acceptable that safe abortion is being withheld from so many women and girls with unwanted pregnancies?" Marge Berer, coordinator of this initiative for the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion, said in a statement.
Four hundred thirty international, regional and national organizations, groups and individuals from 73 countries around the world, signed the letter, including representatives of Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the National Abortion Federation.
Rebecca Oas, Ph.D., associate research director for pro-life organization C-Fam, which monitors UN social policy, toldLifeSiteNews on Friday that it would be a “mistake” for the UN to adopt these groups’ suggestions.
“What women need is better maternal healthcare,” she said, explaining that deaths of women after abortions are higher in countries where live births are also less safe, “but there are countries with good maternal health that also have strong legal protections for the unborn child.”
Oas said that if the secretary general endorsed abortion, he would put himself “at odds with many member states and with the long-standing consensus in negotiated UN documents.
“If the SG and the heads of UN agencies were to grant this request, it would only further the impression that they are more beholden to a radical and divisive agenda than to the world's governments that make up the UN. This is a desperate attempt to appeal to the elites for symbolic action after consistently failing to win their case in substantive negotiations,” she added.