International Pro-Abortion Litigation Strategy: An Anti-Democratic Plan to Force Legalized Abortion on the World’s Governments

By Stephen M. Krason, J.D. | May 10, 2006

The paper analyzes legal strategies of reproductive rights advocates, in particular the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), to legalize abortion around the world.  The paper starts with a discussion of actions of various United Nations bodies such as the treaty monitoring bodies, UNFPA, and UNICEF, which through their interpretation of the existing UN documents justify their pro-abortion policies and recommendations.  It then goes on to analyze particular strategies of CRR that abet and support these efforts.

The author uses CRR internal documents that have entered into the registry of the US Congress to illustrate these strategies.  They focus on widening the scope of extant rights (“hard norms”), and the use of non-binding documents (“soft norms”) issued by treaty bodies such as the CEDAW committee and the Human Rights Committee as means to establish a “right to abortion” through strategic litigation.  Of particular interest is CRR’s focus on bringing cases to international and legal court-like treaty monitoring bodies to then use their potentially pro-abortion rulings (“soft norms”) in domestic courts.   CRR also advocates expanding the meaning of existing “hard norms,” such as extant rights to be found in human rights treaties and declarations.  For example, CRR argues that the right to abortion can be inferred from the right to life and health, the right to privacy, or the right to be free from discrimination.  Thus, CRR hopes that these “hard norms” based arguments will be convincing to international treaty bodies and will lead them to produce “soft norms” to then be used in domestic courts.

Stephen M. Krason is a lawyer with a Ph.D. in political science currently teaching at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.  He is a co-founder and the President of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists (SCSS).