Concerned Women for America (CWA) was well-represented at the 56th Annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), February 27-March 12. We sponsored two very different seminars attended by delegates, other representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from around the world, and pro-life, pro-family student interns who are studying international issues.
I was the moderator for the first seminar, “Women’s Mental and Reproductive Health after Pregnancy Loss,” which explored the connection between abortion and breast cancer. It was co-sponsored with three other NGOs and had overwhelmingly positive response from the audience, who included a surprising number of OB-GYN doctors from other countries. Two of them spoke up during the Q&A session to express appreciation for the quality and persuasiveness of the information in the seminar. Two speakers were distinguished medical doctors with impressive credentials, honors, and accomplishments. Two speakers were women who have experienced pregnancy loss through abortion. Both turned their awful experiences into service for others — one heads “Silent No More” in Canada and is an author; the other is a representative from Saskatchewan.
- Dr. Joel Brind’s degree is in medical science — which provides an extraordinary background for analyzing and doing meta-research on medical studies published in the major professional medical journals. He is a professor of biology and endocrinology at Baruch College at the City University of New York. He served on the Centers for Disease Control Advisory Committee on Breast and Cervical Cancer. He is probably the most recognizable authority on the research linking abortion to breast cancer.
- Dr. Angela Lanfranchi is a breast cancer surgeon who is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, certified by the American Board of Surgery, and Surgical Professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She gave a clear and compelling case for the connection between abortion and breast cancer. Her work earned her the designation “2012 Top Doc for Women’s Health in Breast Surgery” by the Castle Connelly Medical Association. Dr. Lanfranchi founded the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, which is a non-profit charitable organization (doing research, publications, and lectures) focusing on risk-reduction and prevention of breast cancer.
Among the little-known information these outstanding doctors presented was that induced labor to deliver a baby takes many hours of medication for cervical dilation sufficient for delivery. An abortion uses medical instruments to mechanically and unnaturally stretch the cervix, a process that often injures and/or scars the woman to the point that her cervix is unable to hold a pregnancy in the future. Another salient point in this era of late marriages is that every year that a woman delays having children after age 20, her risk of breast cancer goes up five percent. Those are only two of the very significant points of information that came from presentations that were chock-full of relevant — even life-saving — information for today’s young women which they are not getting through misleading or incomplete reports of medical research in the mainstream media.
The two post-abortive women from Canada Silent No More — Denise Mountenay, who is the Founder/President, and Melody Stafanson, who is a board member — told their personal stories, which the audience reacted to very emotionally. They were tremendously moving presentations about the harms of abortion on women and the tremendous loss many women feel afterward, as well as the significant — and unexpected — pain during the experience of abortion and the resulting health challenges afterwards. We at CWA National hope that all our members will feel their investment in membership is worth the time and money, because we are able to get information like this out to an influential audience of leaders from around the world.
CWA’s second panel, co-sponsored by the Disha Foundation in Calcutta, India, was equally compelling and influential. Titled, “Empowering Women: Personal and Professional,” the three-person panel consisted entirely of internationally renowned speakers who travel the world as professional women and serve in influential positions here in the states. Unlike other women, who have sought positions of power or celebrity, each of the panelists are women who serve because of their faith and their desire to inspire the next generation and influence the direction of culture back toward Judeo-Christian values and beliefs. All three women feel empowered because they have what most young women want: to “have it all” — career, husband, and children. The panelists agreed, however, that many of the choices young women are making today are limiting their potential and will keep them from being “empowered.”
- Margaret Hartshorn, Ph.D., Heartbeat International, oversees more than 1,000 pregnancy help centers in 48 countries around the world. After teaching high school English and mentoring young, pregnant, unmarried women for 21 years, Peggy Hartshorn felt that it was time to help young women understand the myths perpetuated through American culture. She specializes in countering abortion, promoting adoption, and encouraging sexual integrity. In her U.N. remarks, Dr. Hartshorn said that she prefers using the term “sexual integrity” instead of abstinence, because it is new, everyone wants to be a person of integrity, and young women will listen to explanations of how it is possible to express your sexuality throughout life in a true, excellent, honest, and pure way. Sexual integrity, she said, provides women protection in childhood, direction in adolescence, and the opportunity for celebration of sexuality in adulthood and within marriage. In a presentation chock-full of data, Dr. Hartshorn made a very persuasive case for sexual integrity. A young Korean mother and NGO representative from her country to the CSW spoke about how she was encouraged by Dr. Hartshorn’s remarks to go back home and put it into practice with her three teenagers who are being influenced by American entertainment in Seoul. Her discussion of abortion was powerful — full of information about the physical and psychological complications associated with abortion. In addition, she talked about the politics of abortion that permeate the agenda at the United Nations and how it contradicts the goal of empowering women.
- Dorothy Patterson, Ph.D., Southwestern Baptist Seminary, introduced herself as primarily a wife and mother, even though she has a long and impressive list of professional accomplishments, including visiting 75 countries and having private meetings with many international leaders on those trips. While she has authored numerous books for women and parents and is a General Editor for the Women’s Study Bible, Dr. Patterson considers her primary — and most critical — responsibility in life to be providing a warm, welcoming, and creative home environment that meets the needs of her husband and children. She spoke about the power inherent in being a mother. In addition to all the significant data she presented about the influence of mothers, Dr. Patterson talked about the way creative homemaking satisfies the deep longings of a woman’s heart and nurtures her self-esteem and sense of worthiness to her family’s well-being. Her descriptions of the opportunities she had to nurture her children provide a bulwark for them against negative outside influences and create hospitality for others — including her children’s friends — were very challenging to the audience. One international NGO representative gave a passionate, impromptu speech afterwards about how thrilled she was to hear this type of message for women at the United Nations — and that hearing it from an American woman was surprising and deeply encouraging to her. That speech, alone, she said made the trip to the CSW worthwhile, and she would take the message back to her country, Ghana. Another member of the audience told about negative reactions of friends to her daughter’s choice to be a full-time mother to her pre-school children. She said she took copious notes to take back to encourage her daughter in her decision to put motherhood at the top of her priorities.
- As moderator of the panel and the third speaker, I provided an overview of the importance of marriage in empowering women to provide a context for the two previous speakers. Today, around the world, the number of single-mothers is either creeping up or dramatically increasing to unsustainable levels. Here in the United States, over 40 percent of the nation’s children are born to single mothers. This trend not only spells multiple risks for the mother — she is more vulnerable to criminal attacks, abuse from a temporary boyfriend, and has an extremely high potential for being in poverty — it also means increased and predictable risks that her children will succumb to drug or alcohol abuse, drop out of school, become sexually active and pregnant out of wedlock, along with numerous other documental outcomes that characterize too many children from homes without a father. Women who cohabit instead of marrying think that they will end up married to the guy that they think loves them, but that likelihood is highly unlikely, according to the social science research. They are more likely to give a guy 10 of their best years, including the years of their fertility, and end up alone while he goes for a younger version. Women who marry after age 35 discover that fertility is a challenge they didn’t expect to face. One 35-year-old wife and her husband were shocked at the steep cliff at age 35 that they saw when the geneticist showed them graphs of Down syndrome. She said, “We had no idea.” What she didn’t know, also, is that there is a large percentage of other fertility statistics that get really bad after a woman reaches age 35. I explained all of the innumerable benefits of marriage to women that are fully documented in a mountain of social science research. In general, women benefit in terms of their mental health, general well-being, and finances. The young women in the audience were particularly affected by the accumulated data that contrasts so sharply with the messages that they have been receiving since grade school that, “Marriage is not beneficial to women,” “Who needs a piece of paper?” “Marriage limits a woman’s career potential,” “Women should make their careers their priority when they are young and marry later, if at all,” because, really, “Who needs a man?
These two CWA-sponsored panels, and our work with the pro-life and pro-family activists at the U.N., places Concerned Women for America at the forefront of the cultural battles that, so often, emanate from the liberal NGOs who use the United Nations to put pressure on member nations to provide abortion, institute quotas, and push “gender equality” messages through intimidation.
Your involvement in CWA makes such efforts possible, and your prayers make them effective. We are pleased to partner with you in helping to empower women — not to be celebrities, make a lot of money, pursue selfish endeavors, or push destructive messages about what makes women happy, but to enable them to live meaningfully, have a positive influence, and find professional fulfillment without sacrificing their personal fulfillment.
We hope that you will consider increasing your financial support of our efforts and that you will invest your time, energy, influence, and finances in joining us to build Young Women for America chapters in colleges and universities around the nation so that we can train and empower young women for sexual integrity and for realizing their personal potential, without sacrificing their personal fulfillment as wives and mothers.
Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., is Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute. She is a former speechwriter for the first President Bush, was twice an official U.S. delegate to the United Nations, received a global leadership award, and is a featured speaker at numerous international conferences through the year. She has represented CWA at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women for over a decade.