NEW YORK, March 7, 2013, ( – The United Nations' top official on torture has issued a report declaring that refusing to allow legalized abortion of children constitutes the “torture and ill treatment” of women.

Not allowing women to screen unborn children for fetal defects, in case they wish to abort them, and not allowing transgender people to change their sex on official documents before an operation are included under the same rubric, he stated.

“International and regional human rights bodies have begun to recognize that abuse and mistreatment of women seeking reproductive health services can cause tremendous and lasting physical and emotional suffering, inflicted on the basis of gender. Examples of such violations include…denial of legally available health services such as abortion and post-abortion care,” according to Juan E. Mendez, the UN's Special Rapporteur on Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Punishment. He wrote that he was seeking to identify “the reproductive rights practices in health-care settings that he believes amount to torture or ill-treatment.”

Not only does failing to perform abortions amount to “torture,” but so does refusing to test unborn children for abnormalities in their development so that women can choose to have them killed, according to Mendez.


“In the case of R.R. v. Poland, for instance, ECHR found a violation of article 3 in the case of a woman who was denied access to prenatal genetic testing when an ultrasound revealed a potential foetal abnormality,” observes the Special Rapporteur in paragraph 78.

Such screening “is imperative to a woman's ability to exercise reproductive autonomy, and the rights to health and to physical integrity,” he wrote.

Another item that falls under “torture,” according to Mendez, is refusing to change people's gender classification on their birth certificates and other official documents without first carrying out “sex-reassignment” surgery.

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“As at 2008, in the United States of America, 20 states required a transgender person to undergo 'gender-confirming surgery' or 'gender reassignment surgery' before being able to change his legal sex,” Mendez complains in paragraph 78. “In Canada, only the province of Ontario does not enforce transsexual surgery in order to rectify the recorded sex on birth certificates.”

Stefano Gennarini, director of the Center for Legal Studies at C-FAM, told that Mendez' statements are yet another example of special rapporteurs trying to “fabricate obligations on states, or create new obligations on states that never agreed to them in any binding international agreement, no in any consensus document.”

“It's part of a broader effort of human rights groups that are in cahoots with the office of the High Commissioner of Human rights to make abortion into a human right,” Gennarini said.

The document, entitled the “Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” is addressed to the 22nd session of the United Nations' Human Rights Council.

Although Mendez's report cites statements by various UN committees charged with human rights treaty oversight, Gennarini noted that those statements have no binding authority, although the committees often act as if they do.

If anything, he said, international law prohibits abortion.

“It certainly has no basis in international law,” said Gennarini. “Neither the convention against torture, nor any other UN treaty, speaks about abortion. If anything, there are several UN treaties that have pro-natalist provisions, provisions that say that children should be protected, including the preamble to the convention on the rights of the child, as well as the prohibition for prescribing the death penalty for pregnant women, for example.”