BUENOS AIRES, July 15, 2011 ( – Although the American Convention on Human Rights protects the right to life “from the moment of conception,” the court assigned to enforce the treaty does not regard abortion as a violation of the convention, an official of the Interamerican Court of Human Rights commented recently.

Article 4, paragraph 1 of the Convention states, “Every person has the right to have his life respected. This right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the moment of conception. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”

However, Luz Patricia Mejía, a member of the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights, which exists to enforce the convention, says that “legal abortion is not contrary to the American Convention of Human Rights.  This was said in 1984 and has been reiterated in other pronouncements,” according to recent reports in the Argentinean media.

Mejía, who is currently the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women for the Commission, explained that “the issue of the rights of women and their right to health has to take priority,” advancing the pro-abortion claim that legalized abortion is necessary for the “health” of women.

“We have to overcome the heat [of people’s positions] to guarantee the rights of women,” she said.

Regarding the Convention’s explicit reference to “the moment of conception,” Mejía claimed that the words “in general” had been included to allow countries that had legalized abortion to sign the treaty, and added that “it can’t be interpreted in a restrictive manner.”

The comments were made during an appearance by Mejía in the Argentinean National Congress, where she testified regarding proposed legislation to decriminalize abortion.

However, Nicholas Lafferriere, the director of Argentina’s Center on Bioethics, the Person, and the Family, says that Mejía is clearly not interpreting the Convention correctly.

“The lack of foundation in her statements and the way she refers to a supposed right that doesn’t exist is surprising,” Lafferriere told LifeSiteNews. He added that “it’s lamentable that a functionary would make statements that are so evidently contrary to human rights.”

“In reality, treaties have to be interpreted in a progressive manner, that is to say, that one can never regress regarding a right that is already recognized.  So to intend to depenalize abortion signifies a retreat in the broad protection that life has, especially in Argentina,” he said.