U.S. Asserts that Beijing Declaration Didn’t Create Right to Abortion

The United States angered abortion supporters when it filed two amendments at a ten-year review of the 1995 Beijing declaration insisting that the declaration did not create a right to abortion.

The Beijing declaration is a 150-page statement calling for an improvement in the condition of women worldwide, in areas as diverse as education, health care, politics and, of course, sexuality.

Efforts were made at the time to explicitly refer to abortion as a right in the declaration, but these were rejected by governments that have restrictive polices on abortion. The United States, under President Bill Clinton, supported efforts to declare abortion a right. Instead the declaration mad generic statements such as asserting that nations should,

Ensure equal access to and equal treatment of women and men in education and health care and enhance women’s sexual and reproductive health as well as education

It also asserts that women have the right to,

. . . decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality . . . free of coercion, discrimination and violence.

At this year’s meeting of the United Nations Committee on the Status of Women, the United States submitted an amendment it wanted added to any reaffirmation of the Beijing Declaration. The amendments would have added language that declared that “while reaffirming [the Beijing Declaration] that they do not create any new international human rights, and that they do not include the right to abortion”

The amendments met with strong opposition, and for awhile bogged down the reaffirmation process. Eventually, however, the United States withdrew its amendments. The U.S. representative on the Committee, Ellen Sauerbrey, delivered a statement to the committee from Condoleeza Rice which read, in part,

As colleagues in this meeting know, the United States has had concerns about efforts to mischaracterize the outcome documents of Beijing and Beijing+5 in creation of new international rights. It is clear that there was no intent on the part of States supporting the Beijing documents to create new rights. While those documents express important political goals, they do not create rights or legally binding obligations on States under international law, including the right to abortion. The United States recognizes the International Conference on Population and Development principle that abortion policies are a matter of national sovereignty. And, we are pleased that so many other governments have indicated their agreement with this position, and we anticipate that we can now focus clearly on addressing the many urgent needs of women around the world.

Apparently the United States concluded it got what it wanted by making it clear that by reaffirming the Beijing Declaration it was not affirming any sort of right to abortion.


U.S. Pushes U.N. on Abortion Declaration. Associated Press, March 28, 2005.

US sparks row at UN over abortion. The BBC, February 28, 2005.

Women?s Leaders Welcome U.S. Decision To Rejoin Global Consensus for Women?s Human Rights. PlanetWire.Org, March 4, 2005.

Statement by the United States Representative to the Commission on the Status of Women. Press Release, United States Mission to the United Nations, March 2, 2005.

Fourth World Conference on Women Beijing Declaration. 1995.

Catching the Associated Press in a Lie

It’s kind of amusing to listen to some of the recent carping by major media folks about blogs and then see the Associated Press run a story like this,

President Bush on Friday wished Bill Clinton “best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery.” “He’s is in our thoughts and prayers,” Bush said at a campaign rally. Bush’s audience of thousands in West Allis, Wis., booed. Bush did nothing to stop them.

The problem for the Associated Press is that this part of Bush’s speech was carried by Fox News and there is clearly no booing at all. After Bush says Clinton is “in our thoughts and prayers,” the crowd applauds and shouts encouragement, but there are clearly no audible boos.

Later, the Associated Press came out with a new version of the story ommitting the nonsense about the boos, but the old version is still on hundreds of web sites that subscribe to the Associated Press feed. For example, at Salon.Com the story is headlined Audience boos as Bush offers best wishes for Clinton’s recovery.

Should We Have Sent the Ninjas After Al Qaeda?

Henry Hanks provides a link to one of the more bizarre 9/11-related stories. It seems a couple of Clinton-era National Security Council folks have written a book, Sacred Terror, which tries to portray the president as wanting to do nothing more than go after Al Qaeda, only to be foiled time and again by entrenched interests in the Pentagon.

But in their book, the former-NSC staffers make the mistake of outlining what they claim was a serious plan by Clinton to go after Al Qaeda,

He approached Gen. Hugh Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and said, according to the book, “It would scare the (expletive) out of al-Qaida if suddenly a bunch of black ninjas rappelled out of helicopters in to the middle of their camp. It would get us an enormous deterrence and show those guys we’re not afraid.”

The Pentagon feared a debacle similar to April 1980 when President Carter dispatched helicopters to Iran in hopes of rescuing 52 American hostages. The result was the incineration of two helicopters and the deaths of eight servicemen.

The authors suspect that Pentagon reservations about the Clinton plan ran deeper. The Pentagon, they point out, had an uneasy relationship with Clinton virtually from Day 1, when the White House began pushing to end discrimination against homosexuals by the military.

. . .

Clinton’s “black ninja” plan never got off the ground.

Okay, let me get this straight. Clinton suggested sending in the ninjas, and the reason the Pentagon dismissed the idea was not because it was (and is) completely nutty, but rather because they were still pissed about don’t ask, don’t tell?

Can you imagine the headlines if Bush made this sort of boneheaded proposal and it was leaked to the media?

And this is in a book intended to reassure us of Clinton’s competence in fighting terrorism?


Book Looks at Clinton Presidency: Clinton Had Little Success in Getting Pentagon, FBI to Pursue bin Laden Terror Network, Book Says. The Associated Press, November 13, 2002.

Barr Sues Clinton

What a moron — the Washington Post’s Lloyd Grove reports that Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) has filed a $30 million lawsuit against Bill Clinton, James Carville and Larry Flynt. Barr charges that statements those three made about him during the impeachment process caused him “loss of reputation and emotional distress” and “injury in his person and property.”

While the impeachment hearings were underway, Flynt published an affidavit from Barr’s first wife accusing Barr of having lied under oath during his divorce proceedings (Barr’s first wife claims he paid for and approved of a 1983 abortion she had; Barr denied this in court) as well as having had an affair while he was still married to his first wife.

Barr complained at the time about Flynt’s accusations (though he never denied the adultery claim). It would be easier to have sympathy for Barr if he wasn’t a two-time hypocrite. Not only was he one of the leaders of the impeachment crowd, but he was also one of the Republicans openly calling for House hearings about whether or not Gary Condit had obstructed justice in the Chandra Levy case.

Apparently Barr enjoys tossing around allegations, but does not like it when others follow suit. The lawsuit doesn’t have a chance and just makes him look even nuttier.


Bob Barr’s Believe It or Not
. Lloyd Grove, Washington Post, June 13, 2002.

Bill Clinton: Do as I Say, Not As I Did

Wired quotes Bill Clinton in a recent speech saying,

Democratization is the only world view that can survive in this country. It’s very easy advice to give, but it’s very difficult to live that advice. We have to develop a way of thinking about the world that is more consistent with what we want the world to be.

Ah, so that’s what all of the aid to the Colombian military was for — to aid the process of democratization. I guess in order to get a little democracy you have to fund a few right wing death squads here and there.

I suppose when Clinton’s FDA was holding up approval of RU-486, that was helping to advance the cause of women, and when he and Al Gore proposed putting government back doors in all encryption products, that was his way of honoring American’s freedom. And, of course, when he pardoned FALN terrorists, that was his prescient effort to fight the war on terrorism.

Gee, how will we ever get along without the benevolent Clinton watching over us.

Jimmy Carter on the Mark Rich Pardon

Most of the Democrats on the weekend news shows were taking the line that Bill Clinton’s pardon of Mark Rich was deplorable but there was no evidence that Clinton pardoned Rich because of campaign contributions he received from Denise Rich.

Former President Jimmy Carter disagrees, telling the Associated Press, “I don’t think there is any doubt that some of the factors in his pardon were attributable to his large gifts. In my opinion, that was disgraceful.”

Way back in 1992, Clinton promised that his time in office would represent “the most ethical administration history.” The one thing I would really like to see a reporter ask Clinton point blank is whether he believes he achieved that goal (and I suspect that despite everything he would answer in the affirmative).