Readers' Forum


Human Rights for Women

Thank you for the excellent spring edition on human rights. I'd like to expand the discussion to include reproductive rights, including abortion, as a core human rights issue that profoundly affects women, families, and communities around the world.

The basis for a woman's universal human right to safe, legal abortion can be found in numerous international treaties, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, women's reproductive rights under international human rights law are a composite of a number of separate rights, including: the right to life, liberty, and privacy; the right to health and family planning; and the right to be free from gender discrimination.

More than 68,000 women a year, 98% of whom live in the developing world, die due to unsafe, illegal abortions. Access to safe, legal abortions is truly a matter of human rights for women everywhere.

- Marcy Bloom (Seattle, WA)

Put Human Rights First

The Human Rights issue (Spring 2007) is really splendid, one of your very best. The great insight for me came in the call by Larry Cox and Dorothy Thomas to move beyond single-issue advocacy. I have been teaching liberation theology and directing social justice agencies for nearly 50 years, both in the faith community and as a regional director for the American Friends Service Committee. I have led justice projects on trade union issues, economic and racial justice in South Africa, and food and development issues, among other things.

In all of this, there was always a context of human rights, but we argued our cases on specific legal, ethical, and constitutional rights rather than on an insistence that fundamental human rights are inherently the same for all people regardless of their particular status as women, workers, immigrants, or prisoners.

If I were a young man again, I know how I would change my basic approach to social change, and I hope that this issue of YES! will lead others in that same direction.

- Thomas E. Ambrogi (Claremont, CA)

The Right to Marry

I loved your issue on Human Rights. Heeding its warning, “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance,” I think the Universal Declaration of Human Rights needs to be updated to include the rights of those in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. Perhaps article 16 should now read, “All who are bonded by love have the right to marry and form a family.”

- Rev. Todd F. Eklof (Louisville, KY)

Terminating Bad Policy

I read your article “Terminating Global Warming” in the Winter 2007 edition and applaud the efforts and intentions of California's Air Resources Board (CARB) in determining emissions caps and developing new regulations to implement the California Global Warming Solutions Act. However, the article states that the board will take four years to do the above, and polluters will have one year to comply or face criminal charges. Given that the polluting entity must assess how far out of compliance they are and their remedial course of action, which may include the design and construction of new equipment, shouldn't the timetable be reversed?

Faced with a choice between an impossible timetable for compliance on one hand and criminal charges on the other, good companies may choose to fold. Someone with some experience in running a business and a sincere desire for a positive outcome should become a board member of CARB and adjust that timetable.

- Barry C. Schlimme (Independence, KY)

Global Support for Going Local

Today's local economies are threatened, not just by economic globalization but also by global problems like pollution and climate change, that local economies cannot solve on their own.

To strengthen our local economies, we need to re-engage in politics to create national and international rules that mitigate these global threats.

We also need to create the right institutions on all levels. Currently the WTO rules worldwide, enforcing free trade values at the expense of a healthy environment and healthy communities. The World Future Council will be launched in Hamburg, Germany, on May 10 to speak up for our citizen values and the needs of future generations. It will also work with policymakers worldwide to reform the laws, rules, and agreements that threaten our common future.

- Jakob von Uexkull (World Future Council London, UK

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