There were indications that President Bush's administration was reviewing its position.
Delegates from more than 100 countries and 6,000 advocates for women's causes have been meeting since Monday to assess what countries have done to implement a landmark platform of action adopted at the 1995 U.N. women's conference in Beijing to achieve equality of the sexes.
The United States has proposed an amendment to the final declaration to be adopted by delegates at the two-week meeting stating that the Beijing platform does not guarantee the right to abortion.
Nicole Ameline, France's minister for parity and equality in the workplace, said any attempt to change the final declaration reaffirming the platform adopted by 189 countries a decade ago could be seen as a step backward for women's rights.
"We are extremely concerned by the U.S. position in renegotiating or opening discussion based on their anti-choice agenda," said Taina Bien-Aime, executive director of the international human rights organization Equality Now.
"We believe it unconscionable that the United States would hijack this very important meeting to talk about a very narrow issue," the fundamental right to abortion, which doesn't appear anywhere in the Beijing platform, she said.
Jessica Neuwirth, the group's president, told reporters Wednesday that the language related to abortion was painstakingly negotiated in Beijing before the platform was adopted by consensus - and reservations expressed by nations at the time are part of the record.
"This little document of one page is certainly not the place to have that debate again," she said.
Asked if the United States would drop the amendment, Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, said: "Discussions continue."
"We've been hearing from other governments that they agree with us on our concerns about the original intent of Beijing in the outcome document and their domestic laws reflect that," Grenell said.
At the 1994 U.N. population conference in Cairo, delegates recognized that governments must deal with abortion as a public health issue. At Beijing the following year, they went further, approving a platform that asks governments to review laws that punish women for having abortions.
Attempts for stronger language on access to abortions failed at Beijing and references to sexual rights and sexual orientation were dropped. But the Beijing platform does say women have the right to "decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality ... free of coercion, discrimination and violence."
The Vatican and a handful of Islamic and Catholic countries opposed any reference to abortion at those conferences, while the West and hundreds of women's rights activists supported them - including the U.S. government under former President Bill Clinton.
The Bush administration has taken a much tougher stand against abortion, as reflected in the proposed amendments.
The U.S. amendments would reaffirm that the platform does not create any new human rights, including "the right to abortion," said U.S. Ambassador Ellen Sauerbrey, head of the U.S. delegation, insisting this would not "in any way" reopen negotiations on Beijing.
But Ameline said Tuesday any attempt to change the declaration's simple reaffirmation of the Beijing platform could destroy the consensus needed for its adoption.