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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 March, 2005, 10:14 GMT
US backing down in abortion row
Pro-choice and pro-life campaigners at a recent march in Washington
Abortion has dominated the meeting on women's rights
The US has strongly hinted that it will drop its controversial demand to add anti-abortion language to a UN declaration on women's rights.

The issue has dominated a UN conference reviewing the declaration adopted at the 1995 women's conference in Beijing.

The US has been criticised by European and other delegates over its demand for an amendment stating specifically that abortion was not a human right.

A US spokesman said discussions were still continuing.

"Our original goal was to make sure that everyone involved knew what the original intent of the Beijing document was," said Richard Grenell, a spokesman for the US mission at the UN.

"We are hearing from many delegations that they agree with us," he added.


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
The US administration has accused advocacy groups of trying to define the commitment to "reproductive health services" stated in the document as guaranteeing a right to abortion.

It wanted the 2005 review - being carried out at a two-week conference in New York - to reject this interpretation explicitly.

But the demand has been condemned by a number of delegates.

Nicole Ameline, the French minister in charge of women's rights, said it was "very important not to give the impression to the world that there is a step back or a reinterpretation of this issue".

She pointed out that the 1995 document did not refer to abortion as a right - but that specifically ruling this out would send a wrong signal.

About 100 government delegations and thousands of activists are involved in the Beijing declaration progress review.

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