CRR Provides Testimony Before Sen. Durbin Hearing on CEDAW
(PRESS RELEASE) Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), as chairman of the Senate Subcomittee on Human Rights and Law, is holding the first-ever hearing in the Judiciary Committee this afternoon on U.S. Ratification of the human rights treaty, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Among other issues, the treaty protects fundamental human rights, addressing violence against women, the right to vote, sex trafficking, and access to education.
The Center for Reproductive Rights is a global human rights organization that uses constitutional and human rights law to promote women’s equality by establishing their access to reproductive healthcare. We have United Nations consultative status and for the past 15 years, have been engaging with U.N. treaty bodies and other human rights mechanisms, including the committee that monitors CEDAW.
Nancy Northup, president of the Center, and Cynthia Soohoo, director of the U.S. Legal Program at the Center, have submitted written testimony outlining how CEDAW has been an effective tool in working to ensure that women throughout the world have access to healthcare. The CEDAW Committee has called attention to necessary steps to address maternal mortality, end female genital mutilation, and expand access to family planning services.
The Center specifically addresses arguments that the CEDAW Committee’s efforts to protect women from the dangers of unsafe abortion are reason to oppose ratification. The Center has this response:
“The Committee encourages countries to consider removing criminal penalties on women who undergo abortion, to make legal abortion available where women’s lives and health are threatened, or in cases of rape and incest, and to give women real access to treatment for complications from unsafe, clandestine abortion. The Committee’s approach to this issue is consistent with U.S. law, which recognizes the constitutionally protected right to abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that blanket restrictions that do not allow women access to abortion when their health or life is in danger are unconstitutional.”
The Center also outlines the importance of CEDAW ratification by the U.S.:
“CEDAW is prompting a global conversation on women’s human rights. The U.S. should be a key voice in this dialogue, but instead it is missing in action. Our silence on CEDAW stands in stark contrast to our engagement with other human rights initiatives… CEDAW has been ratified by 186 countries. The U.S. is one of only a handful that have failed to join, and the only industrialized nation not to do so. Ratifying the treaty would give the U.S. greater legitimacy in its efforts to combat violations of the human rights of women worldwide, which would in turn strengthen CEDAW’s effectiveness. Through participating in CEDAW and nominating members of the CEDAW Committee, the U.S. would be able to encourage the international community to improve the human rights of women around the globe.”
Read the complete text here >,
The hearing will be held at 2:00pm, EST. in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 226.