News - Domestic disturbance

Why motherhood and the U.N. don't mix

Senate Democrats are trying to score election-season political points pushing ratification of a radical United Nations treaty with a serious beef against motherhood. Crazy as it sounds, they just may succeed.
Democrat senators, led by Joe Biden and Barbara Boxer, are selling the treaty as a harmless common-sense women's rights measure when it is neither. In fact, the treaty is so extreme that it has been gathering dust in Washington since the Carter administration.

Proponents note that the treaty, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, has been ratified by 170 nations. What treaty pushers don't say is that more than a few of those ratifying countries probably wish they hadn't. Policed in perpetuity by a kangaroo committee of U.N. busybodies, the treaty seeks an end not so much to unfair gender discrimination but to natural gender differences.

The treaty's left-wing enforcers have declared war on stay-at-home moms, dismissing the noble calling of full-time motherhood as a backward social construct, nothing more. The U.N. pushes governments to get more moms into the workforce and more kids into day care. CEDAW meddlers have even railed against Mother's Day, warning Belarus that they are "concerned by the continuing prevalence of sex-role stereotypes and by the reintroduction of such symbols as Mother's Day."

Even as the U.N. decries motherhood, it salutes prostitution. CEDAW enforcers told China to legalize the oldest profession. In Germany, where prostitution is legal, the committee complained that hookers don't "enjoy the protection of labor and social law." Oh, the horror!

The globo-bureaucrats behind CEDAW are also pro-abortion absolutists, respecting neither national laws nor the individual consciences of doctors who would rather not rip apart babies in the womb. The U.N. warned Croatia that "the refusal, by some hospitals, to provide abortions on the basis of the conscientious objection of doctors [is] an infringement on women's reproductive rights."

Don't trouble CEDAW enforcers with such antiquated notions as freedom of religion, either. The committee told Croatia it was concerned "that church-related organizations [were] adversely influencing the government's policies concerning women."

It goes on and on. The CEDAW committee told Thailand to revise its textbooks "to reflect values of gender equality," instructed Ireland to count its female professors, complained that Peru wasn't providing enough contraceptives to "teenage girls," and even directed Libya to reinterpret the Koran on gender issues.

As CEDAW shows, the U.N. has far outstripped the mandate of its charter. No longer content with its original peacekeeping mission, it's meddling more and more in the internal affairs of member states. Issues like education, housing and health care, however, should be subject to national sovereignty, not government by international committee.

Why is CEDAW coming up for ratification now? The primary driver is politics. Democrats want to paint Republicans into an election-season corner, giving GOP senators the unwelcome choice of voting for a flawed and dangerous treaty or being slammed as an enemy of women's rights.

Republicans can also thank President Bush. Earlier this year, his State Department upgraded CEDAW's status to one of low priority, but acceptable and recommended for approval. Now the Bush administration is divided, with some pointing out CEDAW's obvious problems and others arguing that Bush needs to find an international agreement he can support after raining on the parades of the International Criminal Court and the job-killing Kyoto climate treaty. The president needs to tell the American people just how radical CEDAW is. If he doesn't, he will have only himself to blame when Democrats pass off CEDAW as a harmless fuzzball.

CEDAW was in ratification limbo for 22 years for good reason. It deserves to keep on collecting dust — unless (or until) Americans want to be lectured by foreign nitwits on the evils of Mother's Day. luke.boggs@creativeloafing.com

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