Pro-Lifers Barrage UN Committee in Protest

By | October 13, 2017

NEW YORK, October 13 (C-Fam) The United States, Poland, and more than one hundred other governments and non-governmental organizations barraged the UN Human Rights Committee with briefs, pleading them not to declare abortion a human right.

A bicameral and bipartisan coalition of 51 members of the U.S. Congress, led by Chris Smith of New Jersey, also wrote to the committee, “As lawmakers, we believe we have a duty to protect the weak, disenfranchised, unwanted and vulnerable from violence and abuse. Therefore we write to affirm that the most elemental human right of all—the right to life—includes unborn children.”

Poland’s government wrote: “Article 6 (1) protects the life of every human being in every stage of its development, as the inherent dignity of a human person starts with the very first moment of its existence.”

The UN committee is finalizing a legal commentary that excludes unborn children and the terminally ill from the right to life in article 6 of the UN treaty on civil and political rights, one of the earliest and most widely ratified UN treaties. The commentary will not be binding but could be influential.

While the official statement of the U.S. did not address euthanasia, and did not rule out the possibility of a human right to abortion under other UN treaties that had not been ratified by the United States, it wrote that “any issues concerning access to abortion […] are outside the scope of Article 6.” The U.S. described the draft commentary as “expansive” and “inconsistent with a proper interpretive analysis.”

The governments of Australia, Egypt, Malta, and the Russian Federation also opposed the imposition of a right to abortion. Pro-life organizations and academics from around the world echoed these views in briefs published on the website of the committee.

“Abortion and euthanasia are hot-button issues still debated in politics and culture all across the Globe. They are not issues that should be decided or resolved by an unelected, unaccountable, and mostly obscure committee of experts in Geneva,” wrote Civil Society for the Family, an alliance of more than 180 organizations that includes C-Fam, publisher of the Friday Fax.

Civil Society for the Family explained to the committee that the UN treaty does not exclude the unborn or the terminally ill, that it does not include a right to abortion or euthanasia, and that attempts by the committee to say otherwise are illegal and cannot give rise to obligations on member states. It also provided evidence to the committee that legalizing abortion is not needed to improve maternal health, and that doctors increasingly question the necessity of so-called “therapeutic” abortion in any circumstance.

Abortion groups and their governmental supporters also made submissions on a wide spectrum.

Sweden and Finland made single paragraph submissions to support a right to access “safe abortion.” Denmark and the United Kingdom asked the committee to no longer refer to “pregnant women” to avoid excluding pregnant transgender men from the right to abortion. France, who normally promotes abortion as a right, limited its comments to promoting abortion as a health policy. France and Germany opposed an obligation to allow euthanasia or assisted suicide. The Netherlands asked that euthanasia not be limited to “catastrophically ill” patients.

The Holy See did not make an intervention, although it has promoted the UN treaty on civil and political rights since it first came into force.