Anti-Choice Organisations


Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/feb/12/us-aid-ban-abortions-rape-victims

 

Prohibiting the use of foreign aid to provide access to safe abortions has repercussions far beyond US borders

 

US aid policy still denies women access to abortion if they are raped in war. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP

Over many years, I have visited conflict-affected states where I have met women who have suffered the agony of rape, and where sexual violence is the shocking and specific consequence of conflict.

These women are often traumatised, stigmatised and ostracised by their families and communities. When they are pregnant as a result of rape, these consequences are compounded.

While there is welcome attention focused on the plight of women and girls raped in war, there are still significant gaps in the international response to this global scourge.

One of those critical gaps is the routine denial of access to safe abortion services for rape survivors, which violates their rights under international humanitarian law. The reality is that these women are entitled under the Geneva conventions “to receive, to the fullest extent practicable and with the least possible delay, the medical care and attention required by their condition”.

I remember meeting three women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who had been gang-raped the day before as they walked home from the market. I will never forget them, and I have often wondered what would have happened if they were pregnant, because abortion is illegal in Congo .

What we do know is that, often when women in such situations are denied access to safe abortion services, they resort, in desperation, to unsafe methods that can result in serious harm or even death. And this happens even though several international bodies, including the committee against torture and the human rights committee, have found that the denial of abortion to rape victims can be defined as “torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”.

So what exactly are the obstacles and restrictions facing them, when it is already clearly defined that when rape is used as a weapon of war, in armed conflict, women have an absolute right to non-discriminatory medical care under the Geneva conventions?

The blame for these draconian restrictions lies at the door of the US and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), whose largest single donor is the US . The US imposes a “no abortion” ban on its foreign aid, which in practice means that the EU, the UK , the UN and the ICRC neither talk about nor provide abortions.

ICRC is the Department for International Development’s (DfID) partner of choice and receives the largest amount of DfID funding made to humanitarian organisations. This means that the UK is severely compromised by restrictions that it apparently doesn’t support, and which allow for a situation where life-saving abortion is being denied, even to very young girls raped in conflict.

This clearly flies in the face of international humanitarian law. In a recent statement, DfID said: “In conflict situations where denying an abortion in accordance with national law would threaten the mother’s life or cause unbearable suffering, international humanitarian law principles may justify performing an abortion”.

Does that mean that when the suffering of an impregnated war rape victim is “bearable” she can be denied an abortion? And how does she prove that her suffering is unbearable?

DfID says it talks to Norway , a country that is showing real leadership and has asked the US to lift the abortion ban as a matter of compliance with the Geneva conventions. Why doesn’t the UK join Norway in the stand it is taking?

And isn’t it time that the UK stood up for the rights of women and girls who have been raped to have the same access to medical treatment as other war victims?

 

 

Stephanie Johanssen

Legal Counsel for European and UN Affairs

Global Justice Center

http://www.abortionreview.org/index.php/site/article/1323/

31 January 2013

Dr Carlos Morín, the Barcelona abortion doctor facing a possible sentence of 273 years in prison for practising almost a hundred abortions, has been absolved of all charges. Jennie Bristow discusses the circumstances and broader implications of his trial.

Another 10 defendants also faced heavy prison charges for illegal abortion, forgery, conspiracy and professional intrusion; however, the Barcelona court has ruled the abortions were carried out according to the law, and ‘with the consent and under the express request of the pregnant women’, the Spanish newspaper El País reports (1).

With this ruling, notes El País, ‘the Court of Barcelona has closed today an episode that marked a before and after in the Spanish legislation on abortion’. The Morín case attracted attention across Europe because, as the London Times reported back in 2011, ‘hundreds of women from Britain, Spain and other parts of Europe who were seeking late abortions were treated at the Ginemedex and TCB clinics in Barcelona, which were run by Dr Morín’. (2)

In Spain and beyond, the Morín case highlights some unsettling features of the legal and cultural situation surrounding abortion laws in Europe , and their implications for women and doctors. Above all the case shows how quickly, in a febrile cultural climate, countries can shift from being a haven for desperate women who could not be treated elsewhere in Europe into a hell for the doctors who helped them.

Context

Carlos Morín’s Ginemedex clinic in Barcelona has been the focus of attention by anti-abortion groups and media organisations for several years. In 2004, the British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph conducted an undercover investigation into the practice, by the abortion provider British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), of giving women the Ginemedex clinic’s telephone number when they were too late in the gestation of their pregnancies to be given an abortion under British law. A ‘supplementary report’ published by the Sunday Telegraph one month later ‘alleged that a general practitioner based in the South Birmingham Primary Care Trust had offered to facilitate the referral of a late abortion to the same clinic’. (3)

In Britain, the maximum ‘time limit’ for abortion (except in cases of fetal anomaly or to save the mother’s life and health) is 24 weeks; and pressure on the ‘late’ abortion services at that time meant that a woman presenting for an abortion at gestations over 21 weeks could not always obtain treatment in Britain. In such circumstances, staff at BPAS would sometimes pass on to these women the telephone number of the Ginemedex clinic, where abortions were conducted up to and beyond the 24-week British limit.

The Sunday Telegraph investigations caused significant fall-out in Britain . The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) conducted a thorough investigation of practices at BPAS, and in a report published in September 2005 (3) concluded that, while some of the advice given to the undercover journalist by staff at the BPAS helpline was unacceptable and that training issues should be addressed, BPAS had not broken any laws and continued to run a good service for women needing abortions at later gestations.

The CMO noted that ‘a woman is entitled to travel to another member state of the European Union for a termination of pregnancy’, and that information received from the Catalan Health Authority at the time of writing his report indicated that ‘there is no evidence of the Spanish clinic having acted outside of Spanish abortion law’.

The CMO’s most significant conclusion, for Britain , was that the circumstances leading to women being given the number of the Spanish clinic indicated broader inadequacies in the late abortion service in Britain , where the lack of provision meant that some women were denied access to the abortions to which they would have been legally entitled. The CMO called for an inquiry in the late abortion service in Britain – to date, this has not been acted upon.

Over in Spain , the campaign against Carlos Morín continued. In 2006, a Danish TV company conducted an undercover investigation of the clinic; this prompted another inspection by the health authorities, which found nothing illegal. The ‘ultra-Catholic’ group E-Christians then lodged a complaint about Morín at the Barcelona doctors’ association, which failed. In 2007, following a legal complaint against Morín by an employee, the clinic was searched, documents confiscated, and Morín arrested.

The puzzling thing to arise from this chronology of events is, what changed between 2006 – when the health authorities were apparently satisfied with Morín’s practices – and 2007, when he was arrested and his practice shut down? Again, it is fruitless to speculate on specific details that may emerge over the course of the case. But given broader developments in the Spanish abortion law from 2007, it is necessary to look at the changing cultural, political and legal context in which the Morín case has developed.

The Spanish abortion law, 2004-2007

As things stood in 2004, abortion was permitted under Spanish law for the following reasons:

• The pregnancy is the result of rape – up to 12 weeks gestation;
• The fetus, if carried to term, will suffer from severe physical or mental defects – up to 22 weeks;
• The abortion is necessary to avoid a grave danger to the life of or the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman – no time limit. (4)

In this respect, the Spanish law was similar to the British abortion law: with the exception of rape cases, abortion was not available on request, but it put the onus on the clinician to interpret it according to the woman’s circumstances. Under British law, abortion is legal up to 24 weeks’ gestation on the grounds that the pregnancy risks damage to a women’s mental or physical health; this is interpreted broadly, so that most of those women with an unwanted pregnancy who are motivated to ask for an abortion are considered to be at risk of psychological damage if the abortion is denied.

In a similar fashion, so the Spanish law came to be interpreted in its least restrictive form, and practiced outside of the national healthcare system. As the CMO’s report noted, in Spain in 2005 ‘Nearly all abortions are carried out in private clinics and 97% of abortions are carried out under the last ground shown above. In 2003, 79,800 abortions were carried out; 1.9% of these were at 21 weeks or more.’

The CMO’s report also cited statistics from the Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia about the extent of late abortions performed to women from outside Spain: ‘The article also said in 2003, that out of all the patients seen within the 26 centres in Catalunya, 812 patients were foreign and only 14 of these were from the United Kingdom overall. 98.9% of the abortions performed on foreigners were of less than 22 weeks. In three cases it was in the 24th week and in five in the 26th week.’
This detail indicates a number of key points about the legal situation in 2004:

• Abortion in Spain was legal beyond the 24-week British time limit;
• Clinical practice at the Barcelona clinic was above board, in that it was inspected and approved by the Catalunyan health authorities;
• A small proportion of the abortions carried out in Spain were at ‘late’ gestations of only 21 weeks, and an even smaller proportion were carried out beyond the UK time limit of 24 weeks;
• A very small proportion of clients had come from the UK , and most of those were being treated at gestations that were legal in the UK – but presumably, they could not access the procedure here.

In other words, there was no scandal here waiting to be uncovered. The situation in Spain was legal and accepted by the health authorities; and this provided a haven for a small proportion of women travelling from countries where abortion was either illegal or inaccessible. What suddenly seems to have changed in 2007 was not the practice in Spain , but the cultural and political climate in which abortion was provided.

The Spanish abortion law, 2007-date

In 2010, the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Voluntary Termination of Pregnancy Act became law in Spain , replacing the previous legislation. This provides for abortion on request, funded by the state, up until the fourteenth week of gestation; but it is far more restrictive of abortions carried out later on. In this regard, the new Spanish law follows a pattern established in some other European countries, where there has been a ‘trade off’ between liberalisation in the first trimester of pregnancy – abortion on request – against greater restrictions on abortions at later gestations.

The new law seems to have been greeted by abortion providers as a mixed blessing. It was provoked by the bizarre situation in 2007, where a number of abortion clinics were raided by the Guardia Civil, medical records were seized, and clinic staff arrested or investigated. Following this, 40 clinics (over half of those in Spain ) suspended their work because they could no longer guarantee the provision of the service, or the safety of their staff. The situation revealed the fragility of an unclear law in circumstances that can quickly change, and the new abortion law has the merit of clarifying to women what they are allowed to seek, and to doctors what they are allowed to perform.

But at a conference of abortion and contraception providers held in Seville , Southern Spain , in autumn 2010, Eva Rodriguez of the abortion clinics’ association ACAI showed a thought-provoking film examining the new law, and also indicating its negative side. One contributor to the film drew attention to the arbitrariness of the 14-week time limit for abortion on request – why should women be accorded less capacity to decide in week 15, or 20 of their pregnancy? There remained difficulties with the financial and practical aspects of implementing the law, including concerns about regional differences. And of course, for women – in Spain and abroad – who need abortions after 14 weeks’ gestation – things have become that much harder. (5)

This situation indicates a shifting climate of expectation around abortion in Spain . As Ann Furedi, chief executive of BPAS, notes, ‘what has happened in Spain seems less to be a discovery of wrong-doing than a redefinition of wrong-doing’. And it is this notion of wrong-doing that needs to be discussed outside of the court, as a moral and political issue.

The demonisation of ‘late’ abortions

In recent years, and around the world, doctors conducting abortions in later gestations of pregnancy have found themselves in the news headlines, and the reaction is interesting to examine. The murder of the American Dr George Tiller in 2009 shocked those inside and outside the pro-choice movement – it is, thankfully, generally considered to be wrong to murder somebody for going about his lawful business, even if that lawful business is the controversial practice of second-trimester abortion. (6)

On the other hand, the arrest of the rogue Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell in 2010 was shocking to those on both sides of the abortion debate, because of the illegality, brutality and clinically unsound nature of his practices. Those who argue for legal abortion beyond the first trimester do so precisely to protect women – who, when desperate for an abortion, will go to any lengths to obtain one – from charlatans such as these. (7)

As a society – even one like America, which is so polarised around the abortion debate – we set great store by what is legal and clinically safe medical practice, and what is not. This is why advocates of women’s right to abortion seek to make this practice legal, so the woman and her doctors can be safe. It is why the fact that most abortions happen in the first trimester does not mean that women do not need access to abortion beyond that time – as research has amply demonstrated (8), a small proportion of women will always need access to late abortion, and the ‘right to choose’ should not just mean ‘only three months to make your mind up’.

And this is also why abortion advocates and doctors will push for women to have access to safe care to whatever gestation they possibly can within the law. If abortion providers were interested in having an easy life, they a) probably wouldn’t work in abortion services in the first place, and b) would seek to provide women with the cheapest, easiest services they possibly could, even if this meant slamming the door in the face of those women presenting with more challenging conditions or gestations. But they don’t.

The fact is, those who work in abortion services are motivated by the care of women who come to them in difficult circumstances, and it is frustrating – at times heartbreaking – when the service that is provided cannot meet these women’s needs. For this reason, the British Government’s Department of Health should get on with the task its Chief Medical Office set the country back in 2005, which was never taken up: to review women’s access to abortions in later gestations, and find ways of improving the service. (3)

In Britain , abortion is legal on broad grounds up until the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy. But women are not always able to access abortions at this stage. The burden of ‘late abortion’ provision has been taken on by independent sector clinics, which cannot always accommodate women’s needs; also, delays in the care pathway can mean that by the time a woman is referred to an abortion provider, she is already too close to the gestational limit to be helped. There should be greater collaboration between independent providers and the NHS to ensure these women can be helped, and greater acceptance within the health service that women are entitled to the ‘late abortions’ that they need.

In Spain , Carlos Morín should have been able to expect fair treatment from the courts, and the open-minded support of his international colleagues in the pro-choice world. All those negotiating their way around sometimes unclear, and often changing, abortion laws in the current climate should be aware that those prepared to do the most to help women are also often the most likely to attract the ire of anti-abortion campaigners, media organisations, and politicians. In such cases, the first casualty is the woman who needs her abortion.

(1) Absuelto el doctor Morín en el caso de los abortosEl Pais, 31 January 2013
(2) Doctor charged with 101 illegal abortions. The Times ( London ), 16 September 2011
(3) An Investigation into the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) Response to Requests for Late Abortions: A report by the Chief Medical Officer. Department of Health, September 2005
(4) Summarised by An Investigation into the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) Response to Requests for Late Abortions: A report by the Chief Medical Officer. Department of Health, September 2005
(5) Achieving Excellence in Abortion Care’: Report on the ninth Congress of FIAPACAbortion Review, 25 October 2010
(6) Comment: One family’s tragedy, not a political indicator. By Jennie Bristow. Abortion Review, 2 June 2009
(7) Late abortion: the new clash in the Choice Wars. By Ann Furedi. spiked, 3 March 2011
(8) See for example Second-Trimester Abortions in England and Wales, by Roger Ingham, Ellie Lee, Steve Clements and Nicole Stone, University of Southampton 2007.

Russian Association for Population & Development (RAPD)

Российской Ассоциации “Народонаселение и Развитие” (РАНиР)

 

Planned activities for September 28 and national news

RAPD, together with its Pro-choice Coalition, are planning a chain of activities devoted to the ongoing International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion worldwide (over almost a month around the date). For the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion on September, 28, we plan the following activities:

  • To conduct a workshop on the right to safe and legal abortion with the former, long-standing and new members and supporters of the “Rowan Bunch” Reproductive Choice Coalition;
  • To write a news report on the Global Day of Action to be published on our websites, the Coalition social media pages and sent to the RAPD regional branches and the 1,500 members of a service providers’ listserve maintained by one of our partner organizations.
  • In terms of visual media, we keep publicizing on our social media pages videos of a bilingual English/Russian seminar we organized in the summer on the topic of access to abortion as a human right in Central and Eastern Europe, trying to maintain interest and increase knowledge of different aspects and related problems among our audience.
  • Several videos are going to be published on our Facebook page around September 28.

And on another note, the national news on abortion in Russia

On July 12, Elena Mizulina, the MP who has introduced most anti-abortion amendments in the Russian Parliament (Duma) last year, has now introduced a new proposal that aims at punishing/criminalizing providers of illegal abortions (proposing administrative punishment when, for example, the obligatory waiting period is not respected or when abortion is performed after the 12 weak cut-off). Committing the “offence” twice or more during one year could lead to big fines or up to 3 years in jail. The proposal has been introduced into the State Duma Committee on Constitutional Law and State-Building, and the Committee has not yet taken any further steps with regard to it.

 

Meanwhile, the famous St Petersburg Regional MP Milonov, author of the scandalous law on the so-called “propaganda of homosexualism”, has introduced a law proposal on the embryo’s rights. The Saint-Petersburg Regional Parliament is going to discuss the law proposal next week (September 17-21), and Milonov hopes that it will be sent then to the State Duma.

There are also, however, some positive changes we can report. After WHO issued its new Safe Abortion Guidance for Health Systems, the Russian Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development accordingly has initiated the development of its new Regulations (Poryadok= Order) on performance of abortion for medical institutions.

From: Director and Moscow team of RAPD

On July 1st, Mississippi becomes the first state in the country with no abortion clinic.

The Mississippi Department of Health is forcing Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last remaining abortion clinic in the state, to immediately comply with a new law requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

To date, none of the highly qualified doctors who regularly provide abortions at the clinic have been granted those privileges.

This unreasonable law puts women’s lives in danger and deprives them of their constitutionally-protected right to decide whether and when to carry a pregnancy to term. The Center filed a legal challenge against the law on June 27, 2012 in an effort to block the state’s unconstitutional attack on women’s health.

Right now, thousands of women travel from all corners of the state, and beyond, to reach the clinic. Even if Jackson Women’s Health Organization has to shut down, women won’t stop seeking abortions. Instead, they’ll be forced to travel out of state to the nearest clinic or they’ll turn to unsafe options putting their health and even their lives at risk.

But the lawmakers responsible for this callous law don’t care about women or the resulting hardships. In fact, State Representative Sam Mims, the sponsor of the law, was quoted by the New York Times saying, “If this abortion clinic is closed, I think it’s a great day for Mississippi.” Gov. Phil Bryant similarly said, “If [the law] closes that clinic, then so be it.”

More infos:

http://reproductiverights.org/en/feature/the-end-of-abortion

Will the Republican nominee reinstate the global gag rule on abortion?

Kenya 2012

By Irin Carmon

June 20, 2012

Also published at Salon

Description: http://internationalreportingproject.org/uploads/kenya_clinic-460x307.jpg

As much as reproductive rights were catapulted into major campaign issues this cycle – in the Republican primaries and beyond – one political football has remained unaddressed. That would be the global gag rule, which bars international organizations receiving U.S. funding from providing, referring for or even discussing abortion. It’s been implemented by every Republican president since Reagan and promptly lifted by Clinton and Obama. But reproductive health advocates here in Kenya haven’t stopped worrying.

Rosemarie Muganda-Onyando, a longtime women and adolescent health advocate who now works with the group PATH, put it pretty bluntly.

“We’re not sleeping at night.” She added, “If Mitt Romney did win – oh please do not talk about it.”

During the most recent round of the gag rule, lack of clarity even among advocates created a chilling effect. (Abortion is legal in Kenya in cases of risk to health and life, as well as in cases of sexual violence, though the constitutional provision is still poorly understood.)

“I think people just got really scared,” said Muganda-Onyando. “From our understanding, if you had any work on abortion, whether it was just prevention or education, even if that funding came from somebody else, you couldn’t get any funding at all. Even for a project on agriculture.”

An estimated 30 to 40 percent of maternal deaths in Kenya are attributed to unsafe, illegal abortion. At the same time, the decline in the fertility rate flatlined. There was another complication: “As HIV/AIDS money increased by leaps and bounds, you also did see a substantial decline in support for family planning.”

“We know that a Republican win could reverse some of the gains that have been made because since it was listed, “there’s been an increase in the U.S. government’s investment in family planning,” though another advocate told me that not that much has changed and some international staff don’t seem aware the policy has been lifted. Still, she says, “Right now the U.S. government invests more money in health in the region than any other country,” including healthcare projects like PATH’s, which serve an estimated 8 million people.

“I’m not exaggerating,” she said. “This is a real fear for us.”

  • Gillian Kane

    Gillian Kane is senior policy advisor for Ipas, an international women’s reproductive health and rights organization.

     

  • Last month the World Congress of Families (WCF), an international conservative network, met at the Palacio de Congresos in Madrid to share tactics in defense of the “natural family.” For its participants the natural family is a standard for social values that harkens back to a mythical era when men headed the household, women tended the kitchen and children, and sex was for procreation only.

    Because these ideals don’t line up with the way many people live and think about their lives, it’s tempting to dismiss the WCF as a gathering of out-of-touch extremists. Scratch the surface, though, and what you find are well-connected and well-funded groups hard at work codifying their “traditional values” through national and regional legislatures and judiciaries.

    The conference theme, “Marriage and Family, the Future of Society,” echoed many of the concerns of conservative religious organizations here in the U.S. (the WCF, unsurprisingly, is headquartered in Rockford, Illinois). While drolly retrograde panels like “Authentic Women and Rediscovering Homemaking” and “Solutions to Homosexual Behavior” featured prominently, embedded in these and most other panels were serious themes articulating a conservative worldview and strategies for protecting and promoting them in the public sphere.

    Personal improvement sessions like “Keeping Families Together,” “The Case for Marriage, Purity and Abstinence: How to Develop Character,” and Promoting Fatherhood (Crisis in Manhood),” were outnumbered by those analyzing opposition tactics like, “Threats to Life and Family in International Law,” “The Homosexual Lobby,” “The Natural Family and the Revolution against the Family,” and counter-strategic sessions like “How to Fight Back against International Law,” or “How to Impact Public Policies and Elections.”

    2012 marked the first time the WCF devoted an entire day to organizing with parliamentarians and civil society. The invitation-only International Parliamentary Forum met to develop concrete political and legislative solutions in defense of the natural family. By far the biggest block of participating parliamentarians was from Spain’s newly installed conservative party, the Partido Popular (PP).

    With a political platform staunchly opposed to reproductive and sexual rights, the Partido Popular is a natural ally for the WCF. Among their first announcements upon entering office was the promise to restrict Spain’s progressive abortion laws; specifically denying youth access without parental consent (youth rights versus parental rights was a central theme of many conference presentations). The PP’s promise to replace a required public school class—which includes instruction on respect for human rights and sexual diversity, among other topics—with one that would exclude “contents that could be used for ideological indoctrination,” drew high praise from participants.

    What emerged after three days was a clear tension between agitating against governments, courts, and international human rights bodies that had “corrupted the meaning and dignity of marriage, devalued parenting, encouraged easy divorce and births outside of marriage, confused sexual identities, promoted promiscuity, created conditions that increased child abuse, isolated the elderly, and fostered depopulation,” and figuring out how to best manipulate those same systems into defending their particular religious values.

    One concern undergirding the varied topics covered by the speakers was that the protection of individual rights (youth rights, gay rights, reproductive rights) was taking place at the expense of “fundamental” religious, cultural, and parental rights. The idea of Christian persecution, or Christianophobia, was echoed throughout and the human rights framework was frequently misappropriated to serve the needs of a given speaker. Human rights were oppressive when they protected reproductive and gender rights (or “new” rights), whereas, when it came to protecting “traditional” rights to freedom of religion and speech, they were suddenly fundamental. New rights, they argued, cannot supersede traditional human rights. When they do, these rights violations must be redressed.

    This very argument is being used in the debate over the Obama health care reform law, one of the main objections to which is access to reproductive health care. Lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the mandate, however, do not directly confront abortion and contraception, but are based on the purported violation of the First Amendment. Stand Up For Religious Freedom, one of the lead networks agitating against health care reform, explicitly states that: “the American ideal of religious liberty is at stake. This isn’t really about contraception—it’s about the First Amendment.”

    The Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), one of four World Congress of Families co-conveners, has been extremely active in “defending religious organizations and businesses that refuse to comply with the mandate and abandon their faith.” To date they have filed three lawsuits against the Obama administration, each claiming that the health mandate is unconstitutional based on its violation of the First and Fifth Amendments.

    The ADF is also actively litigating religious freedom cases overseas. Because U.S. justices are increasingly citing progressive international jurisprudence in their opinions and decisions, much of the ADF’s international litigation is aimed at ensuring that foreign rulings serve its domestic objectives. This, despite ADF Chief Council’s Benjamin Bull’s comment that “The Constitution is the only arbiter of American law. Allowing foreign or international law to determine the legitimacy of American law is completely unjustifiable and rife with dire consequences.” Presumably it is fine for activist American justices to cite international jurisprudence if it advances their religious agenda.

    Roger Kiska, an Ave Maria-trained lawyer, runs ADF’s European office. Located in Vienna, it’s a Eurail ride from both the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg and the European Court of Human rights in Strasbourg, where Kiska spends a great deal of time. Kiska is developing an allied attorney network dedicated to litigating European cases with the potential to impact ADF work in the United States. Kiska’s WCF presentation, “How to Fight Back against International Law,” included a four-point strategy that, while not revealing too many trade secrets, was notable for its venomous tone toward “humanists” and others who, he says, accuse Christians of demanding preferential treatment.

    The European premiere of the Hollywood film For Greater Glory perfectly complemented the persecution complex detectable in many presentations. Titled Cristiada in Spain, the film chronicles the Mexican Cristero War as experienced by Catholic militia who opposed attempts by the post-Mexican Revolution government to impose anticlerical laws. A New York Times review described the movie’s characters as “clear-cut saints and sinners.” Like the Cristeros fighting against the Mexican lay state, WCF members see their battle as one of religious freedom against an oppressive state bent on forcing them to reject their values and accept a secular, relativist one.

    While WCF participants make the case that they’re being denied their fundamental rights, they are in fact using “religious freedom” as a cover to deny women, children, sexual minorities, and others access to basic needs and protections. The WCF may want to take us back to the Dark Ages, but they’re not afraid to use modern human rights systems to get there.

    On the final day of the conference Paul Herzog Von Oldenburg, the Belgian president of the right-wing Catholic group Tradition, Family and Property, summarized it best: “our great aim, our great ideal, is to build a Christian civilization from the ruins of the modern world just as the medieval world arose from the ruins of the Roman world.”

www.womensenews.org/story/the-world/120530/uk-sees-rise-us-style-anti-abortion-tactics

By Sarah Ditum

WeNews correspondent

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Polls show most U.K. citizens support a woman’s right to choose abortion. But U.S.-style anti-choice tactics are picking up speed and fostering an aggressive activism movement marked by website hacking and clinic vigils.

BATH, England (WOMENSENEWS)–The United Kingdom may be a pro-choice nation in polling data, but U.S.-style anti-choice tactics are being used to attack that consensus.

Seventy percent of U.K. citizens polled in 2011 said it was a woman’s right to choose whether she continues her pregnancy.

 

But this pro-choice majority has long been opposed by vocal anti-abortion groups, such as the London-based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, founded in 1966. And now U.S. anti-choice groups have expanded into the U.K., bringing more aggressive tactics that overshadow the homegrown movement.

 

One such organization is 40 Days for Life, founded in College Station, Texas, in 2004. The group’s self-proclaimed tactic is what they call peaceful prayer outside abortion clinics. (Its name refers to the length of the biannual vigils the group conducts.) However, employees of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service have reported that members of one vigil approached women attending the Bedford Square in London clinic. The Guardian has also reported that clinic workers accused 40 Days activists of filming people entering the clinics.

 

A second group, Abort67, is the English offspring of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, an anti-choice lobby group with headquarters in Lake Forest, Calif. The group, founded by Greg Cunningham, a former advisor to President Ronald Reagan, has more extreme tactics than 40 Days. Primarily active in Brighton and London, they display graphic images of late-term fetuses outside clinics in protest.

 

This type of graphic protest, fairly uncommon among British anti-choice groups, has proven to be an effective scare tactic. A rape victim, who walked through a protest by Abort67 to enter an abortion clinic, told her local paper it left her feeling “intimidated… panicky and judged.”

 

Website Hacking

Beyond protests, the criminal hacking of an abortion provider’s website here also had U.S. ties. In April, James Jeffrey was convicted of attacking a British Pregnancy Advisory Service website and stealing the personal information of 10,000 women who had registered with the site. He was also convicted of vandalizing the site with slogans referring to the “abortion industry,” a term with roots in U.S. anti-abortion rhetoric.

 

Following Jeffrey’s conviction, the BBC reported 2,500 attempts to hack the British Pregnancy Advisory Service’s website again, with more than half of those attacks originating in the United States.

 

Parliamentary efforts are also taking a harder anti-choice line. Conservative Member of Parliament for Mid-Bedfordshire Nadine Dorries has twice attempted to introduce legislation to lower the legal limit for abortion in the U.K. to 21 weeks from 24 weeks.

 

After these attempts failed, Dorries began casting aspersion on abortion providers. She criticized counseling provided by clinics as “biased” during a parliamentary debate on National Health Service practices in September last year.

 

The charge – common in the U.S. anti-choice movement – implied that providers were financially motivated profiteers. It has since gained currency within mainstream right-wing papers in the U.K., such as the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph.

 

This is despite the fact that the vast majority of U.K. abortions are provided either by not-for-profit bodies (mostly Marie Stopes and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service) on behalf of the National Health Service, or by the National Health Service itself. Just 4 percent of abortions are privately funded, according to the Department of Health.

 

Committee Established

Although Dorries’ amendment was defeated, Anne Milton, the parliamentarian under secretary of state for health, said during the September debate that she was sympathetic to Dorries’ aims. She established a committee to discuss the possibility of independent abortion counseling. Dorries is on that committee, which was due to submit a report at the end of April that hasn’t been published yet.

 

Pro-choice M.P. Diane Abbott resigned from the committee in January, calling it a front for anti-abortion ideology.

 

In the face of these attacks, U.K. pro-choice activists are becoming increasingly organized. In Brighton and London, where 40 Days for Life has been most active, an initiative called “40 Days of  Treats” delivered cakes and biscuits to the affected clinics for every day of the 40 Days for Life’s vigil.

 

When the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child held roadside vigils to mark the anniversary of the 1967 abortion act–which legalized abortion in cases where a woman’s health or life is at risk or if a child is likely to be born with a serious mental or physical disability–pro-choice activists throughout the U.K. held counter-protests.

 

Local groups have offered leadership in the pro-choice cause. The Bloomsbury Pro-Choice Alliance in London and the Brighton Feminist Collective have been particularly engaged in organizing direct action and producing literature to refute alarmist claims of anti-choice groups.

 

On May 16, a pro-choice parliamentary meeting organized by the Abortion Rights Campaign brought activists, journalists, abortion providers and parliamentarians together to discuss how best to resist attacks on the right to choose.

 

But these groups are now clearly on the defensive.

 

In March, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley ordered inspections of every abortion clinic in the U.K., following a sting operation by the Telegraph newspaper. Doctors who provide abortions say this has left them feeling attacked and demoralized.

 

Clare Murphy, head of public policy at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said in an article for the Independent in March that there is a worrying possibility that doctors will be deterred from training to perform abortions at all.

 

Sarah Ditum lives in Bath, England. She is a freelance journalist on politics, family and health.

www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ghRk6T37kn927jhIvh8Uk6Riptqg?docId=CNG.36fb559df99f10c4f48da787ec944761.8a1

Fury of Turkey’s women as PM likens abortion to murder

By Fulya Ozerkan (AFP)

ANKARA — Some 300 women are to protest to the Turkish government Tuesday after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sparked fury among women’s rights advocates by likening abortion to murder.

Activists have expressed outrage at the premier’s remarks, branding him a “woman’s enemy.”

The representatives from women’s associations will meet Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Sahin, who has supported Erdogan’s stance.

Erdogan, who also opposed recourse to Caesarean deliveries, sparked the row when he told a population conference on Friday he considered abortion a conspiracy to curb his country’s economic growth.

Appealing to women not to use the right to terminate a pregnancy, he said, “You either kill a baby in the mother’s womb or you kill it after birth. There’s no difference.”

The prime minister further fanned the flames when he told women’s branches of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that “Every abortion is an Uludere,” referring to a botched attack on Kurds by Turkish warplanes in December that claimed 34 lives.

In Istanbul, dozens of women protested at the weekend, unfurling banners reading, “Is the right to abortion the prime minister’s business?”, “Uludcere is murder, not abortion,” and “It’s our womb, we have Caesarean delivery or abortion.”

Women’s organisations accused the Turkish premier of making politics over women’s bodies and urged him to address priority issues that concern women.

“Caesarean births and abortion have legal footing in Turkey. The prime minister’s attempt to change the country’s agenda by attacking women is a grave mistake” said Canan Gullu, head of the Federation of Women’s Associations.

“In such a party congress, the prime minister should have talked about women’s problems including unemployment, domestic violence, or their inadequate standing in political life, instead of making politics over women’s bodies,” she said.

Female deputies from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) also joined the fray, urging Erdogan to “give up standing guard over women’s vaginas.”

Erdogan, whose governing Justice and Development Party takes its roots from Islam, has repeatedly called on women to have at least three children.

In 2004, his government backed a law criminalising adultery but had to abandon it after intense pressure from the European Union.

The prime minister’s latest salvo however has raised concerns at a possible government bid to ban abortion in Turkey that has been legal since 1983, allowing women to terminate a pregnancy in the first 10 weeks.

Sahin defended Erdogan, saying he was referring to unwanted pregnancies which could have been avoided by family planning methods.

“It is every family’s most natural right to plan the number of children they want to have,” she said. “It is out of the question for us… to interfere in this right.”

Initially abortion was permitted only to save the life or preserve the health of a pregnant woman and in cases of foetal impairment but growing rates of illegal abortion prompted the government to liberalise the law in the 1980s.

The latest figures show abortions on the rise throughout the country, from around 60,000 in 2009 to nearly 70,000 in 2011.

Sahin also backed Erdogan’s criticism of the high number of Caesarian births in Turkey, where they now represented half of all deliveries.

“The World Health Organisation says this rate should not exceed 15-20 percent. If you take a look at the European Union averages, this rate is not over 20 percent,” she said.

Howver, in a statement posted on its website, the Turkish Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology said the world as a whole had seen an increase in C-section delivery rates.

www.huffingtonpost.com/barbara-becker/women-colombia_b_1503584.html

Posted: 05/13/2012 1:07 pm

Mónica Roa did not think twice when the lights went out in her office at 5:00 p.m. last Monday. Power outages are a common occurrence in Bogotá, so Roa, a well-known human rights attorney, and two colleagues continued on with their meeting. But at 6:30 pm, a bullet hit the window next to Roa’s desk, sending glass shards into the room. As she raced to the stairwell to alert others, she heard another shot. Her bodyguard, who was outside when the attack happened, counted six shots in total.

In all likelihood, the attack against Roa was timed with this week’s sixth anniversary of Colombia’s landmark Constitutional Court decision revising one of the world’s most prohibitive abortion laws. Roa, the program director of the international rights group Women’s Link Worldwide, had filed the closely-watched case, which eventually liberalized the no-exceptions law and allowed for abortion in the instances of rape, incest, severe fetal abnormality, or when there is a risk to the life or physical or mental health of the woman.

The country watched spellbound as the first person to seek an abortion under the new law came forward — an 11-year-old girl who had become pregnant after being raped by her step-father. Her grandmother had heard about the change in the law and brought her to a local hospital. Women’s Link Worldwide represented the girl as the hospital, which had been unaware of the legal change, at first resisted and then sought to make sense of its new obligations.

That was just the start of the struggle to implement the law. Women’s rights activists say the Constitutional Court ruling and subsequent case law are exceptionally clear in defining how the decision should be implemented. However, the country’s most powerful legal officer, Procurador General and author ofThe Gender Ideology: Tragic Utopia or Cultural Subversion, Alejandro Ordoñez, has been throwing up roadblocks to enforcing the decision, rooted in his personal religious beliefs.

Especially unsettling is a criminal complaint filed against Roa earlier this year by Ordoñez’s deputy Ilva Miriam Hoyos. The charges against Roa appear to be a response to a new case that has now reached the Constitutional Court by Women’s Link Worldwide along with over 1,200 Colombian women. The case requests that the Procurador and his deputies give true and accurate information on sexual and reproductive rights, complying with the Constitution and the jurisprudence of the Court. News of the Hoyos complaint was leaked from the press office of Ordoñez, pointing to his participation in the persecution of a private citizen.

Women’s Link recently launched a campaign that seeks to spotlight the need to have a Procurador who complies with his/her Constitutional duties and defends the rights of all Colombians.

Ordoñez’s position is up at the end of 2012; however, he is seeking another four-year term. Ordoñez’s staunch conservatism presents an embarrassing challenge for Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who TIME Magazine recently featured on its cover as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. There is quiet speculation that President Santos could eventually be favored for the secretary general position at the United Nations.

The UN is clear on abortion. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has strongly disapproved of restrictive abortion laws, especially those that prohibit and criminalize abortion in all circumstances. It has also confirmed that such legislation does not prevent women from obtaining unsafe illegal abortions and has framed restrictive abortion laws as a violation of the rights to life, health and information. The Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Human Rights Committee, and the Committee against Torture have all expressed similar concerns.

Approximately 25 per cent of the world’s population lives under legal regimes that prohibit all abortions except for those following rape or incest, as well as those necessary to save a woman’s life. The 2006 high court decision launched Colombia as a regional and global beacon in advancing reproductive rights. Any harm to citizens like Roa, and any legal backsliding on women’s rights would only be a poor reflection on the country and its promising leadership.

Follow Barbara Becker on Twitter: www.twitter.com/equalshot

www.trust.org/trustlaw/news/colombian-women-with-abortion-rights-turned-away-by-doctors-activist

11 May 2012 16:26

Source: Trustlaw // Anastasia Moloney

By Anastasia Moloney

BOGOTA (TrustLaw) – Doctors and hospitals in Colombia are getting away with refusing to provide abortions to those women legally entitled to them, says a human rights activist who spearheaded a campaign to liberalise the country’s abortion law.

In May 2006, human rights lawyer Monica Roa brought a case before Colombia’s constitutional court to get the country’s blanket ban on abortion partially overturned. The court ruled abortion was allowed in cases of rape, incest, fetal malformation, or if the life of the mother or fetus is in danger.

The law states doctors have the right to refuse to perform an abortion on the grounds of conscientious objection, but they still have a legal obligation to refer a woman to a colleague who will provide the procedure.

But referrals are still not a widespread practice, said Roa, programmes director at global women’s rights group Women’s Link Worldwide.

“Very few doctors understand what accessing their right to conscientious objection actually means and implies,” she told TrustLaw. “Non-compliance with the constitutional decision has not been sanctioned and punished.”

Only one health-service provider has been fined for refusing to provide a legal termination since the abortion law was introduced, she added.

BACKSTREET ABORTIONS

Health authorities across Colombia report that only 1,102 legal abortions have taken place since the new abortion law came into effect in 2006.

“All the attempts to overturn the court’s decision since then have been defeated and the law is still strong and binding, which is important,” Roa said. “But women still have not been able to access their abortion rights without obstacles and without being stigmatised,” she added.

“Overall, more women know more about their rights and the abortion law but they don’t know how to make it happen.”

Of some 400,400 abortions carried out in the country annually, only 322 are legal procedures performed in health facilities, according to the New York-basedGuttmacher Institute, a nonprofit sexual health research group.

This means women are still putting their lives at risk by having backstreet abortions.

“Too many women are still using the clandestine routes,” said Roa.

Conservative social attitudes are a key obstacle preventing women from receiving legal abortions, Roa said.

The Catholic Church in Colombia and conservative political parties and groups are vocal and influential opponents of abortion under any circumstances.

Women’s Link Worldwide is urging the Colombian government to provide better access to family planning services and improve sex education in schools.

“There’s been a lack of leadership at the national level in getting the education, health and justice sectors to work together in an integral way to grant better access to contraception pills and sex education in schools, including reproductive rights,” Roa said.

(Editing by Rebekah Curtis)

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