Human Rights Watch, one of the largest rights organizations in the world, issued an 85 page report last week declaring that the lack of access to abortion violates a woman’s human rights. The Human Rights Watch position is seen as a harbinger of increasing sensitivity to womens reproductive rights concerns among international human rights organizations. But with the exception of a news story by Asjylyn Loder on Women’s eNews and a news brief in Ms. Magazine Online — there was nothing in the American media about this remarkable development. (At least nothing that I could find.)
Women’s eNews reports that the human rights group “has thrown its weight behind a woman’s right to choose, simultaneously releasing a report on Argentina recommending liberalized abortion laws there and filing a brief in support of a Colombian case trying to appeal that country’s strict abortion ban.”

“The moves bolster challenges to abortion bans in Colombia and Argentina and raise the pressure on other rights groups that have so far skirted the issue.”

“Reproductive rights advocates hope the will mark a shift in the mainstream human rights community, which they say has long avoided explicit support for reproductive rights–especially abortion–for fear of political backlash.”

The New York-based Human Rights Watch “believes that decisions about abortion belong to a pregnant woman without interference by the state or others. The denial of a pregnant woman’s right to make an independent decision regarding abortion violates or poses a threat to a wide range of human rights.”  The organization reports that about 40 percent of all pregnancies in Argentina end in abortion and illegal abortion has been the leading cause of death among pregnant women for two decades.

“Historically,” states the HRW report, titled Decisions Denied Women’s Access to Contraceptives and Abortion in Argentina, “successive governments have legislated on matters related to

contraception and abortion as if women were instruments of reproduction and not equal human beings, contributing to an underlying sense among service providers and policy makers that birth control and reproductive health care are somehow illegitimate, immoral, or even illegal.  The consequences for women’s health and lives are serious, sometimes literally fatal.”  

“While Argentina’s current government is making important strides toward addressing a number of the abuses exposed in this report, its efforts to date continue at times to be undermined by public health officials who are opposed to reform, or who fear retribution if they implement the needed reforms.”  

“As detailed in this report, women who want to use contraceptives face a series of imposing, sometimes insurmountable restrictions and obstacles. These barriers include domestic and sexual violence at the hands of intimate partners which authorities are not moving aggressively enough to prevent and remedy.  Another obstacle is blatantly inaccurate or misleading information, too often propagated by health care workers themselves.  A third is that many poor women simply cannot afford contraceptives and government promises of assistance are often not reaching those who need it most.”  

Women’s eNews also reports that “Abortion is the third-leading cause of maternal mortality in Colombia, according to Women’s Link Worldwide, an international nongovernmental organization dedicated to advancing reproductive rights through international human rights law… Colombian law bans all abortions, even in cases of rape or when the life of the pregnant woman is at risk.”

The horrors of the current situation in Aregentina and Columbia should give pause to those who think that overturning Roe vs. Wade would not be that big a deal — and maybe cause them to consider more seriously the consequences of the policies that the theocratic, procriminalization lobby is seeking to impose in the United States.  

Meanwhile, the silence in the American media is chilling.

[Crossposted from]

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