From Turtle Bay and Beyond:
At the conclusion of the 56th session of Commission on the Status of Women, Norway made an extremely strong statement condemning any religion, morality or tradition that stands in the way of the human rights of women. Of course, for the Norwegian delegation this means any group that does not believe that abortion or, as the United Nations would call it, "sexual and reproductive rights", are rights at all. What is most striking, at least to me, is not their verbal attack on what cultures "hold most dear" but their irresponsible use of the term "moral hazard".
As many of us are now frightfully aware thanks to the financial crisis, "moral hazard" describes a situation in which a person or party is more willing to take an unnecessary risk given that they are not the person or party likely to bear the costs of taking that risk. In their statement, which I have published below in full, the Norwegians would like you to believe that those responsible for the utter failure of CSW this year were those who refused to allow for language known to support an international right to abortion into the final outcome document, or "agreed conclusions". They would also like you to believe that those who do not support an international right to abortion do so because they have nothing to loose, or certainly not as much to loose as those women who will be kept from a "right" to abort their children. Unfortunately, in this case, the only ones worried about women and their health were the ones who understand that women's health is about much more than abortion.
This past week, it was the United States, Norway, and the European Union who were unwilling to compromise on ideology and to support language that would benefit the health of mothers and rural women. For people of faith, the family is sacred and the mother's role invaluable. Thus it goes without saying the the health of the women, and the health care she deserves to receive when she is pregnant are a priority. Unfortunately, for the EU, US, and Nordic countries the right to abortion is of even greater value. In fairness to their perspective, it must be pointed out that they believe abortion to be a health "service" and an inalienable right of women. But, what is not fair, and what is the true moral hazard, it that they are willing to compromise on women's health for the sake of the right to abortion.
Their claim is simple, abortion, particularly when it's illegal, is unsafe and kills women. This is true, it can and does kill women, but abortion is never entirely safe and, in numbers, it is not even a blip on the radar in terms of the main causes of maternal mortality, especially in the developing world where abortion is often illegal. And yet, a country like Norway is willing to allow something like a right to abortion keep the other 150 countries that belong to the UN from coming to an agreed conclusion on Women's health because a majority of those 150 countries refuse to accept an international right to abortion as a matter of women's health.
This is the real moral hazard, when your "morality" becomes an ideology that by its very definition blinds you to the truth of the very thing you purportedly support. This is what happened at this year's CSW. Norway, blinded by its own ideology, along with the United States and Europe, failed the woman and her health.
The following is Norway's final statement. I have also included that of the Holy See, which expresses my argument far more eloquently.
The Holy See