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SHOULD U.S. SEND A DELEGATION TO WOMEN’S CONFERENCE IN CHINA?

SHARE SHOULD U.S. SEND A DELEGATION TO WOMEN’S CONFERENCE IN CHINA?

Question: The fourth U.N. Conference on the Status of Women is to begin in Beijing next month. But the conference - devoted to improving the status of women worldwide - has run into roadblocks. Should the United States be sending a delegation?

Betsy Hart: The problem is not that the United States should pull out its delegation. It's that there was never a delegation scheduled to go there in the first place.A conference on women's rights in China? Why not ask the hen if she'd like to "conference" with the wolf? China is at the forefront of assaulting women in the most horrible way they can be violated: by forcing them to undergo unwanted sterilizations and abortions. Before that, they are denied the right to have as many children as they wish and must prove they are on reliable birth control.

True, the conference site was established by the United Nations. But would these same women attend a conference in a country that outlaws abortion? No, they most certainly would have boycotted it.

There are other reasons to pull out from China: The recent imprisonment of Harry Wu, a former Chinese dissident turned American citizen, while he was legally visiting China; the denial of conference accreditation to pro-family and pro-life women's groups. And the list goes on.

But be assured. Whether the conference takes place with a U.S. delegation, we will be the ones most pilloried, for "crimes of excess and exploitation." That's standard operating procedure.

Bonnie Erbe: Unfortunately, radicals on the left and the right are seeking to divide and conquer rather than pay attention to the needs of women around the world.

In the process, they are sacrificing women's actual needs in an attempt to further their own selfish agendas.

My colleague and her ilk on the radical right want to bar the U.S. delegation from attending simply because they understand that the U.N. Conference document will endorse abortion rights. Radical opponents of choice are using the ruse of human rights (something for which right-wing Republicans otherwise rarely express concern) and China's imprisonment of activist Harry Wu to cloak their true agenda - opposition to legal abortions.

But the fact remains that poll after poll shows abortion rights are supported by 80 percent of Americans and the vast majority of women in most countries.

Equally disturbing is that the radical left is imposing silly ideas on the conference. It proposes the acceptance of five gender categories instead of two. But radical feminists are no less guilty than the radical right of trying to co-opt the conference and trade advancement of their own witless issues for advancement of the common good.

Meanwhile, the main purpose of the conference - to urge countries to enact laws that recognize the principle of equity for women and men - is bypassed. The United States should be there to press this issue and stand up for all women's rights.