January 24, 2019 (C-Fam) – A bill to promote “reproductive rights” as “human rights” introduced by Democrats in the House of Representatives in December exposes the left's alliance with the global abortion industry to undermine Trump administration pro-life efforts.
The bill does not appear to be overtly about expanding abortion access. But to those familiar with the campaign for an international right to abortion, the bill is a blatant effort to hijack U.S. law to build up evidence of an international right to abortion.
If adopted into law, the bill would be used by activist judges in U.S. and foreign courts to claim the existence of a human right to abortion based on the implicit endorsement of UN expert opinions to that effect by U.S. legislators.
The Reproductive Rights are Human Rights bill, or H.R. 7228, adopts a bureaucratic directive for the State Department to include a section on “reproductive rights” in the annual U.S. State Department Human Rights Report, a widely read report on the human rights situation in all countries. But pro-life legislators should not be fooled.
Behind the limited effect of the bill lies an attempt to manipulate the U.S. Congress into adopting a law that implicitly recognizes abortion as a human right.
The idea is to get activist judges and bureaucrats all over the world to declare the existence of a binding customary human right to abortion under international law based on the opinion of UN experts and the endorsement of those opinions in national legislatures. This effort relies on a legal theory known as customary international law.
The bill is phrased evasively, purporting to be about the record of countries to implement a 1994 UN agreement, the International Conference on Population and Development, which enshrined “sexual and reproductive health” and “reproductive rights” as global political commitments. It would require the State Department to report on indicators like access to contraception, changes in abortion laws, and performance in maternal health.
Tellingly, the bill does not include the caveats about abortion adopted by the General Assembly at the 1994 UN conference. The caveats ruled out an international right to abortion and cast abortion in a negative light.
And more worrying still, the bill expressly requires the 1994 agreement to be read in light of “General Comment 36,” a recently adopted legal commentary of the UN Human Rights Committee that says a right to abortion is part of the right to life under the UN civil rights treaty ratified by the U.S. in 1991.
International abortion advocates have been trying to erode and move beyond the caveats on abortion of the 1994 UN agreement for over a decade, with very limited success. A U.S. law that endorses the 1994 conference without any caveats on abortion, and that references General Comment 36 specifically, would be a coup for the abortion lobby, and formidable evidence of a customary human right to abortion.
The Democrat-sponsored bill is a reaction to a decision of the Trump administration last year to no longer include a section of the State Department Human Rights Report on international “reproductive rights.” The Trump administration replaced it with a section on coercion in family planning based on U.S. law instead of non-binding international agreements.
The bill, backed by abortion giant Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights, is expected to be re-introduced in the new Congress in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
Published with permission from C-Fam.