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CATHOLIC FAMILY & HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTE

866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 4038

New York, New York 10017

Phone: (212) 754-5948 Fax: (212) 754-9291

Website: http://www.cafhri.org

FRIDAY FAX

June 19, 1998

Volume 1, Number 36

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT DEBATE BEGINS IN ROME:

FEMINISTS FACE FIRST SETBACK

* Libya moved aggressively Wednesday afternoon in Rome to check the

controversial notion of "enforced pregnancy" which is being debated as

part of the proposed International Criminal Court (ICC). The five-week

conference began this Monday and is expected to draw representatives of

185 countries to participate in what many view as one of the most

significant international discussions in decades.

* ICC negotiators hope to create a permanent legal entity that, some

say, could better investigate and prosecute war criminals than ad hoc

courts, like the tribunals currently investigating the atrocities

committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. But pro-life and

pro-family lobbyists warn that feminist activists intend also to use the

court as a tool for imposing their anti-life and anti-family agendas on

traditional-minded societies.

* International pro-life advocates are most concerned with the

inclusion of the term "enforced pregnancy" in two separate contexts in

the ICC articles dealing with "war crimes." Insisted upon by the

feminist Women's Caucus lobbyists, "enforced pregnancy" and its synonym

"forced pregnancy" are code words for a denial of access to abortion on

demand. If the language survives into a final ICC statute, it could be

utilized by a feminist-dominated court to strike down the national

prohibitions against abortion that currently exist in many predominantly

Catholic and Muslim nations.

* On Wednesday, several countries registered objections to "enforced

pregnancy" when it came up for debate before the Committee of the Whole,

the body charged with negotiating the final text of the ICC treaty. As a

result, delegations agreed to refer the matter to an "informal working

group" for debate later in the conference. Such an "informal working

group" joins a much smaller number of participants than the Committee of

the Whole.

* The objections raised by Libya's delegate before the Committee of the

Whole highlight the legal hazards that would inevitably ensue following

the inclusion of an "enforced pregnancy" reference. The Libyan noted

that rape is already a recognized war crime, so the addition of

"enforced pregnancy" can only serve to make the resulting condition of

pregnancy a crime as well. However, she continued, that would

immediately place many countries in an impossible legal position, since

any termination of the criminalized condition of "enforced pregnancy"

will necessitate an abortion--an action which is itself a grave criminal

act under the laws of many religiously-based societies.

* The referral of the enforced-pregnancy issue to an informal working

group signified a major setback for the UN feminists, who argued that it

was agreed-upon language and not open for reconsideration. But pro-life

lobbyists stress that the battle is far from over, because the feminist

contingent in Rome is powerful and well-placed, with Women's Caucus

members installed on a number of key delegations, including the US and

Canada.

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