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U.S. Secretary Of State Clinton Defends Women's Reproductive Rights At Conclusion Of Rio+20 Conference

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton “took a stand for women’s reproductive rights during the Rio+20 United Nations conference on Friday, saying ‘women must be empowered to make decisions on whether and when to have children’ if the world is to attain agreed-upon sustainable development goals,” the Associated Press/ABC News reports. Clinton “spoke during the conference’s last day, applauding the final document’s endorsement of women’s sexual and reproductive health but making it clear that she objected to the omission of specific language on reproductive rights,” the news service writes. “‘While I am very pleased that this year’s outcome document endorses sexual and reproductive health and universal access to family planning, to reach our goals in sustainable development we also have to ensure women’s reproductive rights,’ Clinton said,” according to the AP (Barbassa, 6/22).

“Female leaders have long been trying to tell the world that sustainable development is not just about deforestation, climate change and carbon emissions,” Inter Press Service reports, adding, “Equally as important to sustainable development are gender equality and human rights, which include sexual and reproductive rights.” The news service writes, “The United States, Norway and several women’s rights organizations … fought to keep the text’s language strong, but the Holy See (the Vatican) led the opposition to remove references that ensured women’s reproductive rights” (Ebrahim, 6/22). A WHO statement highlights additional health-related measures adopted in the outcome document, stating, “‘The Future We Want’ conference outcome document … highlights the fact that better health is a ‘precondition for, an outcome of, and an indicator of sustainable development'” (6/22).