A PMS hissy-fit

How embarrassing! The U.S. delegation to a U.N. conference on women’s rights acted a bit too much like every man’s nightmarish version of a woman commandeered by a PMS hissy-fit.

These doddering dollies made us appear as even bigger dolts than the international community already envisions us to be. Perhaps the delegation leader, Ambassador Ellen Sauerbrey, figured the United States isn’t yet isolated enough. Perhaps in her view we should nuke our borders with Mexico and Canada and sail off as one huge cut-loose island into the middle of the South Pacific.

I’m talking about the U.S. delegation’s behavior at the U.N. Conference on the Status of Women’s Rights (a/k/a Beijing + 10). It began last month in New York and runs until mid-March.

Sauerbrey is a two-time loser. Her primary qualification for the prestigious U.N. post is that she ran for the Maryland governorship in 1998 and 2002 as the Republican candidate.

She made and lost a totally unnecessary and hideously denigrating motion to roll back women’s rights, as delegates from the rest of the globe observed with derision. This was conservative politics at its nadir.

Let’s remember: The purpose of this U.N. convocation is to review progress for and by women made around the world in the decade since these same nations met in Beijing. The United Nations-sponsored World Conference on Women in 1995 set so-called millennium goals. The first was to cut global poverty in half by 2015 (a goal still so distant it’s hardly recognizable).

The next was to eliminate laws that discriminate against women (an area in which the world has made some discernible progress these past 10 years.

The rest included universal access to primary education for girls, promotion of gender equality, reduction of infant mortality and improving women’s health.

But Sauerbrey paid not a whit of attention to any of these issues and instead campaigned for a fiasco of a U.N. declaration that there exists no international right to abortion. Fiasco? Yes, because no one has ever proposed such a right under international law anyway and, therefore, none exists. Add to that the reality international law is something most countries flout with impunity.

Sauerbrey steered the United States into what she knew in advance would be a mountain of international resistance apparently just for the fun of it.

Then, tail between legs and under intense pressure from other nations and women’s advocates at home and abroad, she dropped her predictably outrageous and superfluous demand. As one international news agency reported, “There appeared to be no support even for the watered-down (version of Sauerbrey’s) amendment. In one speech after another, delegates from the European Union, the African Union and South America’s Mercosur bloc insisted on leaving the declaration untouched.”

My question: Why did she bother? If I’ve heard one conservative say it, I’ve heard it billions of times: Liberal women are too preoccupied with abortion and most people just don’t care about the issue that much. Well, here’s an example of a conservative woman losing her sense of reason in the name of an anti-abortion agenda. The topic simply did not appear on the U.N. agenda, but Sauerbrey put it there.

I can just imagine her thought process:

“Let’s not worry about the fact women still can’t vote in some countries, or that girls are denied equal educational opportunities in many others. Let’s forget, for the moment, that African-American women are the fastest-growing group of new AIDS patients in this country and that poor women, worldwide, have little or no access to even primitive forms of health care. Let’s abandon the reality that 20 million women lived below the poverty level in the United States last year. Give up on all those substantive issues to squabble over trying to prove a negative.”

Makes sense to me! Get centered, Ambassador Sauerbrey. Get a life. And then go away and get a real job.

(Bonnie Erbe is a TV host and writes this column for Scripps Howard News Service. E-mail bonnieerbe(at)CompuServe.com.)