Family man

"Family man" Continued...

Issue: "Marathon man," Feb. 17, 2007

Still, little victories have come. At the 10-year anniversary conference for women's rights in 2005, the United States submitted an amendment stating that the original conference did not create any new human rights, and gives no specific right to abortion. Ruse says this is an important point C-Fam keeps repeating: No UN document says abortion is a universally recognized human right. Neither does the vogue term "reproductive health" include abortion in its definition.

Pro-abortion lobbyists, however, act otherwise. With the U.S. move, they began gathering hundreds of signatures in a petition against the amendment. In one meeting, some 100 activists ringed two or three U.S. officials, belligerently questioning them about the decision.

Suddenly, Ruse walked into the room with about 10 pro-lifers, carrying a foot-high petition of 2,000 hastily printed-off emails and signatures supporting the U.S. position. The room fell silent, he recalls. Outnumbered on paper, the pro-abortion activists did not bother to present their petition.

But Ruse deputies Susan Yoshihara and Samantha Singson often encounter similar confrontations. During deliberations over a human-rights treaty for the disabled last August, the last round of negotiations-dealing with "reproductive health"-ran until midnight. Delegates suddenly shifted to a closed-door session outside UN headquarters, freezing out observers such as C-Fam, just as they began to hash out pro-abortion language. They met until 4:30 a.m.

When the round resumed later in the morning in a conference room Yoshihara said was "way in the bowels of the UN," Yoshihara arrived to find the door locked-another cloaked session countering the delegates' stated spirit of transparency. Yoshihara took up a bench outside with her laptop, gleaning tidbits from friendly delegates who walked out.

One opponent told her she and her colleagues were "disturbing the delegates." She replied, "We're lobbyists, so we're sitting in the lobby." In the end, delegates did insert the phrase "sexual and reproductive health" in the final treaty-code language opening the door to state-sponsored contraceptives and abortion services. But 15 nations stood firm, maintaining that the language did not include abortion.

Most Americans, even those who consider themselves pro-life, remain detached from what for C-Fam are wins over dry parliamentary language, but victories nonetheless. Ruse worries, however, that pro-lifers often lose in the next step. When the UN passes an international treaty, it then creates a committee to track how countries implement it. The CEDAW women's rights treaty may not pose a problem, but the pro-abortion experts who crowd its committee do. Already they have charged 37 countries with amending their abortion laws, even though the treaty does not mention abortion. The treaty does condemn exploiting women through prostitution. The solution, according to the committee: Legalize prostitution.

That's why C-Fam and Ruse, now 50, married and the father of a 1-year-old, says he is there. He knows he is an outcast and that the UN in-crowd won't invite him to its cocktail parties, and his enemies won't shake his hand. But that's just the way he likes it.


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