Global coalition fights UN effort to declare abortion a ‘human right’
NEW YORK, October 19, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The U.N. Human Rights Committee is attempting to modify its International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to exclude preborn children and the terminally ill from its “Every human being has the inherent right to life” declaration.
Since 1966, the U.N.’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) has declared, “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law.” But the committee is proposing a commentary interpreting the ICCPR that shuns the unborn and terminally ill. The Covenant has 175 signing parties, including six unratified signers.
If the proposed commentary changes are adopted, Article 6 of the covenant will include the demand that “States must provide safe access to abortion.”
Previous commentary specifically mentioned preborn children as worthy of protection, but the U.N. committee decided in March 2016 to take out references to babies in the womb. “It did not appear necessary to mention the right to life of the fetus,” one committee member reportedly said.
The new proposed commentary urges countries to legalize abortion-on-demand without mentioning any gestational limit. It criticizes any regulation of the dangerous procedure as “humiliating or unreasonably burdensome.”
While keeping the original covenant language that everyone’s right to life “shall be protected by law” and “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life,” the proposed commentary change will also enshrine assisted suicide as an international right.
The commentary justifies euthanasia so the “mortally wounded or terminally ill” can “die with dignity.”
The United States, Russia, Poland, Australia, Egypt, Malta, and more than 100 other governments and non-governmental organizations wrote to the committee opposing the proposed commentary changes.
“As lawmakers, we believe we have a duty to protect the weak, disenfranchised, unwanted and vulnerable from violence and abuse,” U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, and a bipartisan coalition of 51 members of the U.S. House and Senate wrote. “Therefore we write to affirm that the most elemental human right of all — the right to life — includes unborn children.”
Poland reminded the committee that the ICCPR “protects the life of every human being in every stage of its development, as the inherent dignity of a human person starts with the very first moment of its existence.”
The U.S. did not comment on the legality of abortion or assisted suicide but reasoned that “any issues concerning access to abortion … are outside the scope” of the commentary.
Pro-life leaders and organizations also urged the committee to abandon its non-binding but influential commentary changes. Many of the pro-life briefs may be read on the U.N. committee’s website.
“Abortion and euthanasia are not issues that should be decided or resolved by an unelected, unaccountable, and mostly obscure committee,” Civil Society for the Family, an alliance of more than 180 groups, wrote. The pro-family alliance added that abortion is not necessary care and does not improve women’s health.
The European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) delivered a statement accusing the committee of “trying to impose the legalization of abortion and euthanasia against the will of states” and of “openly promoting assisted suicide.”
In September, the ECLJ delivered an “oral intervention” at the UN against the proposed commentary.
“It is absurd and unacceptable to draw from the right to life a ‘right to kill an innocent human being’ or a ‘right to be killed,’” the ECLJ stated, reminding the committee that its commentary is supposed to interpret the ICCPR and not change it.
Commentator Wesley J. Smith opined, “Perhaps we should be more honest and call the once most fundamental right, the ‘right to life for some.’“
The Vatican did not make any intervention.
The ICCPR is part of the U.N.’s International Bill of Human Rights, along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Abortion-promoting governments also submitted briefs to the U.N. committee. Sweden and Finland supported a right of access to “safe abortion.” The Netherlands upped the euthanasia ante, saying assisted suicide should not be limited to terminally ill patients. France and Germany supported abortion but not assisted suicide.
Denmark and England went so far as to ask the committee to change its language to no longer use the “transphobic” phrase “pregnant women” because they said transgender men (women who present themselves as the opposite sex) may also get pregnant.
In 1947, the authors of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights discussed including the right to life for children in the womb. Originally proposed language stated, “Everyone has the right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception regardless of his or her physical or mental condition.”
However, China and the Soviet Union, supported by England, successfully nixed that language and made sure abortion was tolerated.
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