Focus on UN : Human Rights Committee and UNFPA Seek to Overturn Pro-Life Laws

Editor’s note. The following comes from the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues [PNCI).

UNhrcThe Human Rights Committee (HRC) during its 144th session monitoring country compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights again used the review period to blast country’s pro-life laws and to promote the highly disproven argument that the legalization of abortion is needed to save women’s lives while ignoring world wide data that demonstrates global deaths from illegal abortion have fallen to a record low of 47,000 worldwide in 2013.

The HRC, acting more like a pro-abortion activist NGO than a human rights treaty monitoring body, used a selective interpretation of Article 6 of the treaty which states “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life” as it criticized pro-life laws, policies and actions in Spain, Venezuela, Northern Ireland, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

In each instance, sovereignty was ignored including as the HRC took aim at efforts in Spain in February 2015 to enact parental consent for abortion laws. The HRC claimed that such measures “could increase illegal abortions and jeopardize the life and health of women.” It instructed Spain that it

   “should ensure that all women and girls can access reproductive health services in all regions of the country and no legal barriers force women to resort to clandestine abortion that puts their lives and health at risk.”

In like manner, the HRC recommended that Venezuela 

   “amend its legislation to provide for exceptions to the general prohibition of all non-therapeutic abortion and ensure that women do not resort to illegal unsafe abortions that could endanger their lives and health.”

During review of the United Kingdom (UK), the HRC was critical of pro-life laws in Northern Ireland stating,

   “The Committee is concerned about the highly restricted circumstances in which termination of pregnancy is permitted under the law in Northern Ireland, and about the severe criminal sanctions for unlawful abortion..”

It recommended:

The State party should, as a matter of priority, amend its legislation on abortion in Northern Ireland with a view to providing for additional exceptions to the legal ban on abortion, including in cases of rape, incest, and fatal fetal abnormality. The State party should also ensure access to information on abortion, contraception and sexual  and reproductive health options.”

The HRC not only appears opposed to all laws regulating abortion but also expressed disdain for a pro-life ad campaign sponsored by the government of former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. It stated:

   The Committee is concerned about reports that the State party conducted anti-abortion campaigns over a number of years which has had the effect of stigmatizing those who avail of abortion.”

These “reports” referred to by the HRC were issued by pro-abortion NGOs working in Macedonia, including the local IPPF affiliate and included the following NGO view:

   “We have grave concerns that, given the government campaign advocating against abortion, the mandatory counselling regulated in the Rule Book is likely to be biased and intended to dissuade women who have decided to terminate their pregnancy.”

The pro-life ads that were reported to be “stigmatizing those who avail of abortion” focused on development of the preborn child as well as presenting the life-ending decision of abortion and included an ad on the fact that Beethoven was not aborted.

The opposition of the HRC to public messages to “Choose Life” in Macedonia included HRC’s instruction to the government to “avoid pursuing any further campaigns used to stigmatize those who avail of abortion.”  

No congratulatory word was issued to Macedonia for its efforts to discourage women from resorting to abortion and denying their children their inherent right to life.

The HRC was also critical of the Law on Termination of Pregnancy of 2013 which it stated “may cumulatively limit access to legal abortion.”    

Macedonia was also told to “take concrete measures, including amending the Law on Termination of Pregnancy, to eliminate all procedural barriers” to legal abortion.

The government responded by stating the intent of the law is to protect women’s health:

   “…the Law on Termination of Pregnancy envisages compulsory counselling for women about possible risks deriving from termination of pregnancy, i.e., women are to be properly informed about the consequences for their health that could possibly arise from the termination of pregnancy…Women have the right to free choice, but also they have the right to be informed about possible consequences that could arise after the termination of pregnancy, having also the right to be informed what is to be undertaken at certain stages in order that they protect their health.”  

PNCI notes the continued complete disregard for national sovereignty by the HRC in regards to laws on abortion as acknowledged in the “ICPD caveat”- recognition of the right of national and local legislators to determine abortion policy.

All documents related to the HRC session can be found on the website under the corresponding country flag.