Choking on the "A" Word
BY MERLE HOFFMAN
Hillary Clinton's speech at the U.N. Forum on Women in Beijing included an almost full litany of the horrors that women are subjected to, including the killing of female infants, genital mutilation, brideburning, rape and other examples of "intimate violence."
But though she strongly endorsed women's right to plan their families and space their children, she never mentioned the word abortion. An estimated 400,000 women worldwide die each year from illegal, botched abortions. Any discussion of the crisis in women's healthcare must include a call for access to legal, safe abortion.
Ms. Clinton told a CNN reporter that after her speech she was congratulated by a few members of the Vatican delegation. What is wrong with this picture?
She did not hesitate to step on the toes of her Chinese hosts by pointing out the human rights violations of forced abortions and sterilization. But she ignored the problem of forced motherhood in the United States. Her reticence in saying the "A" word leads us to believe that she's still afraid of stepping on the toes of American fundamentalists and is putting politics above the truth of women's lives on this issue.
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