Abortion Activists Lose at Organization of American States

By | June 14, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. June 15 (C-Fam) Diplomats from the Trump administration intervened at a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) last week to reverse a trend toward liberalizing abortion laws throughout the region.

At the 48thGeneral Assembly of the OAS, the United States and Canada are the most influential nations. The United States and Canada were at odds over a passage in the draft resolution referring to “sexual and reproductive health.” Canada tried to make it more explicit in favor of abortion, seeking to add “sexual and reproductive rights” to the resolution under negotiation.  Bureaucrats from the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights also lobbied for the rights language.

The American Convention on Human Rights says, “Every person has the right to have his life respected. This right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the moment of conception.” The treaty also says that every human being is a person. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has in recent years used the phrase “in general” to widen the cases in which abortion should be made legal in the region.

In the negotiations underway Paraguay had successfully gotten reference to “sexual and reproductive rights” deleted in the draft document before formal negotiations began last week. Peru said it could accept the term “sexual and reproductive health” however, and so did Argentina, pointing out that the term had appeared in a previous OAS document.

The United States, on the other hand, insisted on deletion of the divisive phrase altogether. On the last day of the two-day negotiation the U.S. delegation added a footnote to the resolution which was in effect a reservation on the section.

In the end, the entire reference to sexual and reproductive health was deleted.

“This is a huge victory for the pro-life movement,” said Neydy Casillas, “It reverses five years’ momentum for the pro-abortion side.” Casillas, an attorney for the public interest law firm ADF International, said another surprise was the deletion of any reference to a controversial advisory opinion of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that would include reference to sexual orientation and gender identity as a category of non-discrimination for the first time in an OAS document.

Paraguay, Guatemala, and St. Lucia opposed the inclusion of the reference and stood firm to the very end despite strong pressure from the Core Group of nations, including Canada, which promoted it. Casillas said the defeat of the Core Group was due to the influence of the United States. This too represented a setback on an agenda that has been making quick progress in the last five years.

Mexico and Canada introduced a new resolution on inclusion and diversity which Casillas says must be monitored in future negotiations to make sure it does not evolve into another divisive document promoting social policies which nations cannot accept.

Marlene Gillette-Ibern, an attorney with Human Life International says that after years of work, the pro-life and pro-family civil society organizations have established a solid presence at the OAS. They are well respected by OAS officials and member State ambassadors, she says. “Our seriousness and arguments in addressing the issues, will continue to open doors for us at the OAS. The kindness and respect we have shown towards members of the anti-life and anti-family organizations have earned us our respect from them in turn, for the most part.”