Freedom from religion foundation, Inc | Subscribe
Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Darlene Prescott: The United Nations, abortion and scary gods

Darlene Prescott
United Nations Building in Geneva Switzerland

By Darlene Prescott

The United Nations receives a lot of bad press — some deserved and most not.  The U.N. does not have the power many thinks it has, but the organization has noble goals, including universal gender equality — a goal that is proving to be the most difficult to achieve, including in the United States.

Gender inequality has been around since Year One and has continually burdened half the global population. There are many people who do not see gender discrimination as an important problem — even today, when the harm is more obvious — because of the rise of education and the sciences in modern society.   

The United Nations Human Rights Council — which has “soft power” and cannot force any U.N. member state, or anyone else, to do anything — has come under scrutiny more than once. Americans have criticized the council when a U.N. member state known for its human rights abuses takes on the leadership role of the council.  Many believe it is better to ignore misbehaving members, rather than try to persuade them to do the right thing.  

Now, human rights monitors have condemned Texas for its 2021 anti-abortion law SB-8, which bans virtually all abortions, as well as medical counseling and support related to abortions, after six weeks. U.N. bodies warn that laws like SB-8 violate international law by denying women control over their bodies and endangering their lives. Criminalizing abortion, or by erecting other hurdles, can in certain circumstances amount to cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment. The U.N.’s special rapporteur on violence against women also condemns anti-abortion laws, because those anti-woman laws encourage more violence against women, as well as against abortion providers.

After the overturning of Roe v. Wade in the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case by crusading justices on the Supreme Court, more anti-abortion laws are being passed around the country that do not include an exception for rape. The level of hostility toward women and girls was laid bare when fetus-worshippers wanted a 10-year-old child, who had been raped, to carry and give birth to the baby. The child had to travel to another state with fewer restrictions in order to obtain an abortion she and her parents wanted. The medical procedure saved her from months of increasing torture, and possibly death. Even for adults, legal abortions are far safer than pregnancy and birthing.

Conservative state legislators around the country are threatening to further intrude into women’s and girls’ private health care decisions, including — astonishingly — by banning the right to travel to another jurisdiction to seek medical care. Some also want to ban female contraceptives.  

More troublingly are those anti-abortion laws that are being passed that do not allow for abortions even if the pregnant female’s health and life are at risk! Not only are those barbaric laws in violation of the human rights of women and girls, but also could be considered a form of homicide of the pregnant female.

Interestingly, and sadly, femicide numbers are rising in the United States from situations other than allowing the pregnant female to die in order to save the fetus. A U.N. Women 2021 report states that, worldwide, 45,000 women and girls were murdered by intimate partners or other family members, and we would expect to see higher numbers for 2022. The fewer rights women have — the less respect — the more “attractive” target they are. What other group of humans are killed in such numbers on an annual basis? Not any political, religious, or racial group.

But, again, who do you choose to save in a dire medical situation —the pregnant woman or girl — or the fetus? Under Jewish law, you save the pregnant female. In a hospital setting, I would think that in accordance with proper medical protocols, the patient’s life would be paramount. However, a 2022 study by Netta Avnoon of Tel Aviv University concluded that because the fields of gynecology and obstetrics had been masculinized (since the 16th century), the focus has been on the needs of the fetus over the well-being of the pregnant female.        

I know who I would choose if one of my female relatives were in such an awful medical dilemma. And I cannot imagine anyone who would allow a loved one to even come close to dying in order to save her fetus. Perhaps the very religious are telling themselves that their god should choose.

Pregnancy and birthing have always been not only painful, but also have put the pregnant female (and the fetus) in life and death situations. What god created such a dangerous reproductive system?  I prefer to blame it on mindless evolution rather than a scary misogynous god.

Considering all the religions that have come and gone over the ages —and more likely to appear in future ages — it takes the supremely arrogant to tell women what they must do according to a particular belief system. It is women who endure dangerous and painful pregnancy and birthing — they are to be in control.

FFRF Member Darlene Prescott retired from a 28-year career at the United Nations, and is now living in the Houston area, where she does pro bono legal work as an attorney. She continues to write legal articles, nonfiction and fiction stories, and has one published book.