Matthew Hoffman

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Mexico Supreme Court plan to impose abortion as a ‘right’ is ‘frankly confused’: human rights expert

Matthew Hoffman

MEXICO CITY, September 27, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A proposed Mexican Supreme Court decision that would nullify pro-life amendments to Mexican state constitutions suffers from flawed reasoning, is “arbitrary,” and “frankly confused,” according to Piero Tozzi, an international human rights law expert and senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund.

According to Tozzi, the proposal, which is being deliberated by the Court this week, misstates and misunderstands key human rights agreements to which Mexico is a party, and uses an erroneous recommendation by the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights in a case involving Costa Rica, which has no legal authority.

The proposal claims that neither “the Federal Constitution itself nor the pertinent international documents regard the product in gestation as an ‘individual,’ nor can the state constitution, because rights would be conferred upon a group of ‘subjects’ that are not recognized by the Supreme Law…”

However, Tozzi told LifeSiteNews that international agreements do recognize the rights of the unborn, including the Interamerican Convention on Human Rights (or “Pact of San Jose”) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which were ratified by Mexico.

Tozzi notes that “obviously article 4 of the Pacto de San Jose makes clear reference to the unborn child,” although Mexico did make a formal reservation at the time of signing to protect the rights of the states to determine their criminal codes with regard to abortion.

“However, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, though less explicitly, also implicitly include the unborn child,” Tozzi adds.

International law and the rights of the unborn

In a recent article for the Argentinean law review El Derecho, Tozzi points out that a large number of agreements explicitly or implicitly acknowledge the rights of the unborn child, including the International Pact of Civil and Political Rights, the International Pact on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women.

The right to life of the unborn has been recognized by two supreme courts in Latin America in recent years, Tozzi writes.  Even the Supreme Court of Mexico rejected the existence of a “right” to an abortion in human rights law when it upheld Mexico City’s abortion law in 2008.

While the proposed Supreme Court verdict states that right to life is “not absolute” because “it can be limited in function of the protection and exercise of fundamental rights, such as, for example, the right to have the number of children that one desires,” Tozzi points out that such rights are separated from abortion in international treaties.

“There is no right to abortion in international law,” Tozzi told LifeSiteNews, “and the non-binding Cairo and Beijing documents in a variety of places affirm that the number and spacing of children does not imply a right to abortion.”

While the proposal cites a recent recommendation made by the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights, Tozzi observes that the Commission’s recommendations are not court decisions, and cannot be used to create a legal precedent. In addition, the recommendation also ignores the rights of the unborn as outlined in major international human rights agreements.

Finally, the proposal’s idea of “fundamental rights” is “arbitrary and frankly confused,” says Tozzi.

The document “criticizes the State of Baja California for giving a supreme and ‘undefeatable’ characteristic to the right to life, saying this is not absolute, and saying that they cannot contradict ‘fundamental rights’ such as the number and spacing of children,” but, “the right to life must be the fundamental right by its nature, as all other rights depend on it. To deny that there is a right to life is to deny every other right, as no other right may be exercised unless life is protected,” Tozzi says.

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