“San Jose Articles” Offer Careful Rebuttal to Spurious Claim of International “Right” to Abortion

By Jeanne Head, RN,  Vice President for International Affairs and UN Representative for National Right to Life

Prof. Robert George

A report that Ireland, which has the lowest maternal mortality rate in the entire world, will be called to account today by a United Nations review committee for its law prohibiting abortion highlights the importance of and the need for the “San Jose Articles,” which were launched today at a press conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York to refute the false claims that abortion is an international human right and to assert the rights of the unborn child in internal law.

The San Jose Articles were drafted by a large group of experts in law, medicine, and public policy. According to Professor Robert George of Princeton, who was joined in the UN press briefing room by Ambassador Joseph Rees, former US Ambassador to East Timor and one time US representative to the UN Economic and Social Council, “The Articles will support and assist those around the world who are coming under pressure from UN personnel and others who say falsely that governments are required by international law to repeal domestic laws protecting human beings in the embryonic and fetal stages of development against the violence of abortion.”

The Articles can be viewed at www.sanjosearticles.org.

Ambassador Rees provided a first-hand example of the pressure.

“When I was in Timor I witnessed first-hand a sustained effort by some international civil servants and representatives of foreign NGOs to bully a small developing country into repealing its pro-life laws,” Rees said. “The problem is that people on the ground, even government officials, have little with which to refute the extravagant claim that abortion is an internationally recognized human right.”

The San Jose Articles, he said, “are intended to help them fight back.”

Perhaps the most outrageously false claim in the drive by the pro-abortion forces that abortion as an international human right is found in the Report of  Anand Grover (the Special Rapporteur on health for the UN Human Rights Council, Geneva). Grover states, “Criminal laws penalizing and restricting induced abortion are the paradigmatic examples of impermissible barriers to the realization of women’s right to health and must be eliminated.”

Unfortunately, his report was released by the UN Secretariat with a note from UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, stating that he “has the honour” of presenting the report to the UN General Assembly.

Ireland is the latest target of UN “human rights” bodies which are pressuring countries to legalize abortion. The treaty-monitoring bodies are particularly notorious in this regard.

For example, the monitoring committee of the CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) has gone beyond its mandate, pressuring more than 90 countries to liberalize abortion laws despite the fact that there is no mention of abortion or even “reproductive health” in the treaty.

Unfortunately these attempts to portray abortion as an International “right” have had some success. The High Court of Colombia changed its abortion laws based on these assertions from a UN committee. Just last week two judges on the Mexican High Court made such assertions in cases involving pro-life amendments made by two states to their constitutions.

The San Jose Articles were a year in the making. Altogether 29 experts helped draft and sign the document. Signatories to the Articles include Professor John Finnis of Oxford, Professor John Haldane of the University of St. Andrews, Francisco Tatad, the former majority leader of the Philippine Senate, Javier Borrego, former Judge of the European Court of Human Rights, Professor Carter Snead of UNESCO’s international committee on bioethics, and Lord Nicholas Windsor an outspoken pro-life proponent who is a member of the British Royal Family.

In the coming days, the Articles will be launched in the British House of Lords, the European Parliament, and the Italian Parliament, also in Madrid, Washington DC, Santiago, Manila, Buenos Aires, Calgary and San Jose.

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