Editor’s note. The following is excerpted from a post at the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues.
Pietro Cardinal Parolin, Secretary of State for the Vatican, led the Holy See delegation to the first World, an initiative of the United Nations, and presented the Holy See’s statement “Uphold the norms that safeguard humanity” which stated the core belief shared by many countries that “there is no right to abortion.”
The Summit, held in Istanbul, was attended by 9,000 participants from 173 Member States, including 55 Heads of State and Government, private sector representatives, and thousands from non-governmental organizations. The purpose was to discuss the unprecedented levels of suffering and humanitarian need in the world today resulting from a myriad of causes, including conflict, and how to provide for their needs with essentials while working for conflict resolution and sustainable development.
The Holy See’s statement began with a critical reminder of the true nature of humanitarian aid:
“Humanitarian assistance may never be used as a means of blackmail or an instrument of political, economic or ideological pressure, leaving human lives to hang in the balance hovering between life and death, due to deprivation of food, shelter, clothing and basic medical care.”
It condemned all acts of violence and made special reference to violence against women, girls and unborn children stating, “Along these lines, the Holy See also condemns all acts of violence against women and girls, especially systematic rape used as a tactic of war or terror. The Holy See promotes the prevention and deterrence of crimes, the prosecution of criminals and access to victim assistance, which does not involve further violence to the traumatized victim and innocent unborn child.”
The Holy See’s statement included a strong rebuttal to pro-abortion countries and activists who claim that access to abortion is an international right, “In this regard, the Holy See emphasizes that there is no right to abortion under international human rights law or international humanitarian law”.
The Summit was used by other entities in attempts to advance access to abortion in humanitarian settings including the European Parliament which passed a resolution this past December that expressed support for abortion as a component of “the full range of sexual and reproductive health services”. The resolution stated that there should be a global commitment to ensure “that women and girls have access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services, including safe abortions, in humanitarian crises, rather than perpetuating what amounts to inhumane treatment, as required by international humanitarian law and as foreseen in the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols.”
The Chair’s Summary Standing Up for Humanity: Committing to Action released at the conclusion of the Summit includes the following statement: “Plans to end tolerance of gender-based violence against women and girls were launched, and commitments were made to ensure the right to sexual and reproductive health care is fulfilled for all women and adolescent girls in crisis settings.”
In contrast to calls for access to abortion—which perpetuate the violence of rape by inflicting death upon the innocent child— Cardinal Parolin shared the Catholic Church’s concern for all of humanity, and affirmed the critical work of Catholic inspired organizations that offer authentic assistance to those women, girls and children whose lives are impacted by rape in crises situation: “The Holy See continues to encourage religious institutions and Catholic organizations to accompany victims of rape in crises situations, who, in turn, need effective and ongoing psychological, spiritual and material assistance for themselves as well as their children, conceived and born of rape.” ….
The statement ended with a call that should especially resonate with those serving in national legislatures, “Each one of us has the responsibility to defend the norms that save lives and protect humanity from suffering and barbary, and the duty to translate the norms into concrete social, political and legal actions.”