The UN’s Mixed Message on Girls


Last week the UN drew attention to the International Day of the Girl, a day set aside to raise awareness of the disadvantages that still plague many girls around the world: poverty, unequal access to education, and the potential to be forced into early childhood marriages or sexual slavery.  According to the UN, if you educate a girl, you are already bettering humanity as a whole.  No doubt the work that the UN is doing should be celebrated by feminists worldwide.  I’ve even had the pleasure of meeting UN representatives from GirlUp, the organization that tries to empower girls who are well off to help their sisters in need through advocacy, education, and outreach.

However, there is a dire poverty and paradox in the U.N.’s campaigning for girls. For as long as the U.N. is a friend to abortion advocates who want to support abortion as a human right, it’s sending mixed messages, at best, about women, freedom, and flourishing.

Members of the UN repeatedly pass resolutions, with the encouragement of abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood and Amnesty International, to support abortion as a fundamental human right.  Last October, a resolution was adopted without a vote to include abortion under the phrase “sexual and reproductive rights” and “maternal health” which would have required member nations to uphold unrestricted access to abortion.  This past spring, pro-life advocates were able to prevent it from being included in the language of human rights, primarily due to the efforts of the Vatican and eight other member states.

What would this mean, for women to have a human right to abortion?  It would mean that girls and women have the fundamental right to terminate the lives of their unborn daughtersNothing could be more self-contradictory for the UN to propose than this.

Though the UN, along with groups like Amnesty International, are successful in drawing attention to human rights abuses, it seems that they are turning a blind eye to the gendercide taking place in countries like China and India…and now perhaps in the West.  Little girls are disappearing at an unforgiving pace.

The Washington Post reported on Friday that in England, several lawyers have brought a lawsuit against doctors for performing abortions based on sex-selection; the abortions were performed on girls, because their parents preferred to have boys.  Though the former health secretary, Andrew Lansley, is quoted as saying he is disturbed by the revelation and that “sex selection is illegal,” the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, said that in England, there is no clear prohibition of gender selective abortions.

Our own country, also member of the UN, also has failed to stand up against sex-selective abortions which harm our nation’s girls.  According to an article from Duke University, “although Western societies’ attitudes towards women differ significantly from other parts of the world, the demand for male offspring is still apparent with 81% of men and 94% of women stating that they would desire to ensure their first child was a boy.”

Last spring, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (also known as PRENDA), was struck down by Congress with the approval of President Barack Obama who said, “The Administration opposes gender discrimination in all forms…but the government should not intrude in family or private matters in this way.”  So, the United States is against gender discrimination, unless it’s taking place in the privacy of someone’s home.  Unborn American girls are at the mercy of whether or not their parents are content with having a daughter.

How can we stand with the UN for the education and empowerment of young girls around the world if we don’t consider the plight of girls still in the womb?

In the days following the International Day of the Girl, let’s work toward achieving real equality for girls, beginning with their right to life.


Categories:Abortion Family

  • eric

    Elise, thanks for upholding women. However, true freedom for women must include, in my opinion, the right to choose when to bring a child into the world. Without this right, women become slaves to society or religious doctrine. This is truly anti-freedom.

    • Quanah

      Being truly free doesn’t mean being able to choose to do what you want, but rather what you ought. I may want to kill someone, but that doesn’t mean I ought to, and there are serious consequences for people who make such a choice when they shouldn’t (excepting mothers who kill their children aged 0-9 months, of course).

      • eric

        I’m not saying that women “ought” to have an abortion. I’m saying that that choice is God given to women. Haven’t we suppressed women long enough?

        • Slats

          God gives women a right to kill those innocents whom according to nature they have a fundamental binding obligation to nurture and protect. Makes perfect sense! (sarcasm off) Such an idea presumes that human life, human relationship, and human communion are of zero worth.

          And the idea that not according women a “right” to do what fundamental moral rectitude presumes that they not do somehow suppresses them or involves any sort of violation against them is not only a blastingly withering insult to my intelligence, it is also an act of calumny. You have accused me (and other faithful Catholics) of a moral wrong and crime of which we are factually not guilty. I ask you with all due respect to take it back.

          • eric

            Slats, I’ve accused no one of anything and I’ve insulted no one. I’ve simply stated my beliefs. I’m not resonsible for the way you interpret or react to my beliefs. That responsibility remains with you.

    • Brian

      That choice is made nine months before the child would be born. With freedom comes responsibility.

    • Slats

      How crushingly misanthropic! All of us as human beings come into the world through our mothers. As long as those mothers are spiritually and mentally healthy, they are also the ones who care for us and nurture us for extended periods of time after our birth. Mother-and-child is the most primal, basic, and fundamental of human relationships. And then to introduce into this dynamic the supposed right for a woman to have a new human being growing inside of her mercilessly butchered (i.e. what existentially happens in all surgical abortions within the most frequent time frame in which they are performed) in order for her to be truly free? How insidious! How destructive to the hope and ideal of communion between human persons! As another poster said, this grossly misdefines what human freedom is, and furthermore makes an idol out of this false freedom. Moreover, such a perspective has as its prerequisite a hell-bent hatred for an accurate understanding of what is the goodness in nature for the feminine half of the human race; i.e. what recent popes have called the feminine genius. In simpler words, Eric, your perspective presumes the hate that women be women. I think we can also say that it presumes that feminine fulfillment requires that they be more like men insofar as masculine freedom is used in a way that is wrong, selfish, and hurtful to others (usually women). Sin begets sin, hate begets hate.

      • eric

        Slats, I hate no one. As a male, I’ve been awed since early childhood by the power, beauty and perseverence of women. I have also been saddened by the suppression of women throughout human history. I’m excited that women’s rights have come to the forefront and I look forward to the day when the inner magnificence of women becomes the guiding light that leads the human race away from war and suppression. What a wonderful enlightenment that will be.



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