Earlier this month, the Center for Reproductive Rights issued a release noting that abortion providers “have been explicitly included in a select group of heroic individuals who work non-violently to protect and promote human rights” by the United Nations. That’s right, individuals who profit, literally, from taking life are considered “human rights defenders.”
However, abortion is not a human right and human rights documents do not recognize abortion as such. Nor should such a right be implied. Rather, what is explicitly, and near-universally, defined as a human right is the right to life.
Take, for example, the Declaration of Human Rights – a document that is widely regarded as the source (in the modern understanding) of human rights that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.
The Preamble describes the Declaration as “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations” and states that “the peoples of the United Nations have … reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, and in the equal rights of men and women….”
These rights and freedoms belong to “everyone,” without discrimination, by virtue of being a human being – “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind….” And in the third article, we find the first of the articulated “rights” belonging to everyone, “Everyone has the right to life….”
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights echoes and enforces the right to life contained in the Declaration (the Declaration, though extremely persuasive, is not itself law). The Covenant proclaims, “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. ”
Thus, whatever else may be said about abortion proponents’ claim that treaties create a right to abortion, the basic human rights documents are, if anything, against abortion; they certainly do not create a right for abortion.
Those who defend “rights to abortion” have nothing to do with defending true human rights. The UN dishonors those – like john Paul II – who believed in true human rights by designating abortion proponents as “human rights defenders.”