Abortion Advocates Say They Are “Human Rights Defenders”
WASHINGTON, D.C. September 21 (C-Fam) Abortion activists are circulating a joint statement to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, identifying themselves as “women’s human rights defenders,” in advance of what they call “International Safe Abortion Day.”
The annual campaign originated two decades ago in Latin America and the Caribbean, and aims to pressure countries into repealing their laws against abortion. Abortion advocates in that region recently suffered a major setback when Argentina’s Senate rejected a bill that would allow for abortions up to 14 weeks’ gestation.
The statement will be submitted on September 24 in Geneva as the Council considers a 1993 resolution that helped create the UN High Commission for Human Rights.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) includes a special rapporteur on “human rights defenders.” Abortion providers and their supporters frequently claim that access to abortion is an international human right even though no global agreement has ever decided this. In contrast, the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development declared the legality of abortion to be solely a matter for national governments to determine, a compromise standard that persists to this day.
Nevertheless, activists for abortion and “sexual rights” have attempted for years to claim the mantle of “human rights defenders” to strengthen the argument that the things they are seeking are, in fact, human rights.
Assisting their cause is the OHCHR itself, which produced a series of videos in 2015 highlighting the work of “women’s human rights defenders.” Among the people being highlighted was Dr. Willie Parker, who runs Mississippi’s sole abortion clinic and wrote a book attempting to characterize providing abortions as a moral imperative based on his Christian faith. Despite Parker’s narrow focus on abortion, his OHCHR video makes no direct mention of the word.
Two years earlier, the New Jersey-based late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart was featured on a panel of “human rights defenders” at the Women Deliver conference in Malaysia.
Throughout the world, people working to defend fundamental, globally-agreed human rights often face persecution, danger, and even the risk of death for drawing attention to injustice. According to the pro-abortion statement being circulated for signatures, laws restricting abortion “institutionalize abortion stigma and create a hostile environment for abortion providers to carry out their work.” Therefore, the statement argues, in order to protect abortionists as “human rights defenders,” “[i]t is the State’s obligation to repeal or eliminate laws, policies and practices that criminalize, obstruct or undermine” access to abortion.
As UN member states convene in New York and Geneva to consider resolutions including language about “human rights defenders”—and, in particular, “women’s human rights defenders”—they will need to consider which organizations will be left with the task of interpreting that language and implementing relevant policies.
The soon-to-be-delivered pro-abortion statement may serve to put them on guard. As Marie Smith, director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues (PNCI), says, “If any delegate has any doubt that women’s human rights defenders (WHRDs) includes pro-abortion activists and abortionists, this action gets the message across.”