Today on International Woman’s Day 2018, I would like to take the time to strongly reject the most recent statement from the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
On 23 February 2018, CEDAW announced that Northern Ireland is violating women’s rights by restricting their access to abortion. I take objection with this for the following reasons:
1) As a pro-life feminist I reject the premise that women’s rights and equality are measured by the ability to access a procedure which will end the life of their unborn baby.
2) There is no human right to abortion.
3) In Northern Ireland 100,000 people are alive today due to the fact that we in Northern Ireland rejected the 1967 Abortion Act which was enacted in the rest of the UK.
An explanation of how this figure was reached can also be found here.
This figure has been verified independently by the Advertising Standards Authority
4) A quick scan of the countries represented on CEDAW will show that there is no representation of Northern Ireland, the UK (which Northern Ireland is a part of) or the Republic of Ireland. So we can glean from this that there is mounting pressure from other countries to impose on NI that which NI as a devolved region of the UK has already rejected.
5) It is interesting to note that in the explanatory notes on the committee it states “Committee members serve in their personal capacities, and not as representatives of the State parties which present their candidature” – so we now have people, acting on their own personal opinion, not in Northern Ireland or the UK, trying to tell the women in NI that in order to have full rights and equality we must be able to access abortion, a procedure which will end the lives of our unborn children. I call that downright audacious.
6) As a pregnancy care charity in Northern Ireland, offering counselling, practical help, housing, support and education to women who find themselves dealing with an unexpected or crisis pregnancy, LIFE NI was not contacted or consulted by CEDAW prior to their “judgement”. If we had been contacted we would have been able to point out to them that women are better aided in their equality by eliminating the crisis and not the pregnancy (e.g poverty, unaffordable childcare, housing issues to name a few). We would have also pointed out that since the introduction of the 1967 Abortion Act in England and Wales there have been nearly 9 million lives lost, babies aborted, in the name of women’s rights and the irony is that nearly 50% of these will have been unborn baby girls, the future women of our world.
So on International Women’s day let us all reject the idea that to be equal to men we should be able to end the lives of our unborn children. That is not equality, that is oppression.
We would do well to remember the words of the American women’s rights activist Alice Paul who said that abortion is “the ultimate exploitation of women”.
Perhaps CEDAW, in living up to its name to eliminate discrimination against women should focus its efforts on eradicating the devastating practice of abortion and perhaps they should look to Northern Ireland as the shining example on how to achieve this.
Marion Woods, LIFE NI & spokesperson for Both Lives Matter