Saturday, September 13, 2008

UN: the right to life means the right to abortion


From C-Fam: Last week, the Office for the High Commissioner on Human Rights, which is responsible for overseeing treaty compliance committees, released the concluding observations of the most recent sessions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Committee and Human Rights Committee (HRC). Both committees used the July sessions to pressure countries appearing before them to liberalize abortion laws, even though no UN human rights treaty mentions abortion.

The HRC, which monitors state compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), told Ireland that it “should bring its abortion laws into line with the Covenant” so that women would “not have to resort to illegal or unsafe abortion that could put their lives at risk or to abortions abroad.” The HRC cited Article 6 of the ICCPR, which states “every human being has the inherent right to life,” as justification for the concluding observation.

Since 2003, HRC has pressured at least 14 countries to legalize abortion or
liberalize laws by misinterpreting the ICCPR provisions like the “right to
life.” Abortion rights advocates claimed victory in the HRC in 2005, when the
Committee made an unprecedented ruling against Peru for allegedly violating the
rights of a woman who was denied permission by the government to obtain an

According to an analysis by Focus on the Family’s Thomas Jacobson, who has
been monitoring the work of the CEDAW Committee and the HRC, “The HRC now
interprets this article to mean that the ‘right to life’ of a pregnant woman is
violated if she is not permitted to terminate the life of her preborn child.
Pregnancy has come to be viewed as life-threatening (instead of life-giving).
To the HRC, the ‘right to life’ has become the ‘right’ to abortion.”

No binding UN treaty includes a right to abortion. Observers are becoming
increasingly concerned, however, by how mainstream committees like the HRC are
following the CEDAW trend of misinterpreting treaty articles and questioning
nations about their abortion laws. Over the last ten years, CEDAW has
pressured over 60 nations on abortion.

At the last CEDAW session alone, CEDAW Committee members questioned
Lithuania, Nigeria, Finland, the United Kingdom and Slovakia on their abortion
laws, using lowering maternal mortality as a pretext. CEDAW Committee members
blasted Lithuania on a draft law which would limit when and in what
circumstances abortions are allowed. Committee members also sharply criticized
Slovakia’s concordat with the Holy See, which protects the right of health care
workers to conscientiously object to participating in abortions.

While the rulings of treaty bodies are technically non-binding, abortion
activists have brought litigation throughout the world citing the ruling of UN
human rights treaty bodies, like the CEDAW Committee, in challenging laws
against abortion. Such arguments helped convince the Colombian constitutional
court to liberalize that country’s restrictions on the practice.

Both the CEDAW Committee and HRC are scheduled to hold their next sessions
in October in Geneva.

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Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen