EDITORIAL: UN Rapporteur Says Death from Botched Abortion is Extrajudicial Killing

By | June 15, 2017

NEW YORK, June 16 (C-Fam) The UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, announced her view that any death from a botched abortion amounts to an extrajudicial killing if it occurs in a country that protects children in the womb.

“Where the death of a woman can be linked to a deliberate denial of access to life saving care because of an absolute ban on abortion. This would amount to a gender based arbitrary killing only suffered by women,” she told the forty-seven members of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last week.

Lamentably, not a single nation took exception to the latest gambit of the UN bureaucracy to use its power to create a global right to abortion on demand.

Yet nations rich and poor have many reasons to object, regardless of their laws on abortion.

The newly appointed expert’s legal theory, as outlined in her report, undermines several basic tenets of international law, and remains highly implausible.

Callamard unilaterally extended her own mandate to cover not only acts and omissions committed by state actors—whereas the limits of the mandate are understood to lie—but also acts by private citizens, corporations, and other non-state actors.

She predicates the right to life of economic and social rights, even though binding human rights treaties only contemplate the right to life in the context of preventing arbitrary deprivations of the right to life by the state.

The fusion of these two erstwhile separate areas of human rights considers any “deliberate denial of life-saving commodities and or essential services” a form of extrajudicial killing “where it can be shown that this denial is deliberate, grounded in discrimination in law and practice and where the state knew or should have known death would result.”

Moreover, Callamard presupposes that abortion is an “essential health service.” Indeed, the UN system includes abortion among the list of basic components of “sexual and reproductive health,” but sovereign nations have never agreed to this as a matter of law.

Nor has the medical community accepted abortion as a life-saving service. Callamard claimed a “direct link” between the criminalization of abortion and maternal mortality, citing the opinions of the UN human rights bureaucracy. This notion has repeatedly been disproven.  Some of the countries with the most restrictive abortion laws in the world have some of the best maternal health results, including Ireland, Chile, Malta, and Sri Lanka, among others.

Tipping her hand to the normative endgame of the UN bureaucrats that helped her compile her report, Callamard tossed out the historically agreed-upon definition of gender as equivalent to sex in her report on a “gender sensitive approach” to extrajudicial killings.

In this context, gender includes categories like gay, bisexual, transgender, and others. There is no separation between the private and public spheres in this “gendered” approach. Any form of discrimination is considered a human rights abuse, and no exception is allowed however reasonable or legally justifiable. Deliberate intent from a state actor is not even required.

It is no surprise that the UN bureaucracy has ramped up legal theories to impose abortion as an obligation on states under the guidance of longtime abortion activist Kate Gillmore, who is now number two in the UN human rights bureaucracy.

One wonders if there is any sphere of family, private, or public life that the UN bureaucrats cannot reach based on this gender theory. This brave new legal world should send a chill down the spine of governments and their international lawyers.