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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 March, 2005, 10:50 GMT
US stance on abortion draws fire
Pro-choice and pro-life campaigners at a recent march in Washington
Abortion has dominated the meeting on women's rights
European countries are opposed to a move by the US to add anti-abortion language to a UN statement on women's rights, a French official has said.

The issue has dominated the proceedings of a UN session to review a landmark declaration adopted at the 1995 women's conference in Beijing.

The US is seeking an amendment saying the document does not create a new human right to an abortion.

But France said the declaration "should be accepted as it is".

Nicole Ameline, the French minister in charge of women's rights, said the 1995 document did not state that abortion was a right - but that specifically ruling this out in the 2005 document would send a wrong signal.

"It is very important not to give the impression to the world that there is a step back or a reinterpretation of this issue," she told the conference in New York.

Ms Ameline added that other EU countries shared this position.


The Beijing declaration called for governments to end gender discrimination in areas including education, health care, politics and employment.

Violence against women
Increasing burden of poverty on women
Unequal access to education
Poor opportunities for advancement
Inequality in economic structures and policies
Inadequate protection of women's human rights
But attempts at the time to refer to abortion as a sexual right were dropped amid heated debate, and instead it was treated as a public health issue.

The US administration has accused advocacy groups of trying to define the term "reproductive health services" in the Beijing declaration as guaranteeing a right to abortion.

It wants the 2005 review explicitly to reject this interpretation, reflecting President George W Bush's tough stance against abortion.

The proposed US amendment was submitted ahead of the two-week meeting at UN headquarters, which began on Monday.

About 100 government delegations, including 80 ministers, and 6,000 activists, are involved in the Beijing declaration progress review.

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