Battles Over Abortion, Euthanasia in United Nations Disability Treaty Continue

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 24, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Battles Over Abortion, Euthanasia in United Nations Disability Treaty Continue Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 24, 2006

New York, NY ( — Debate is continuing on a United Nations treaty regarding the disabled and fierce battles are expected to continue until the end of the day Friday. Diplomats are debating the issue of abortion but also proper treatment for the disabled — a discussion that has some pro-life advocates citing euthanasia concerns.

Two debates are occurring in the discussion over the treaty.

In one, pro-life nations are attempting to make sure the deceptive phrase "reproductive rights" does not make it into the treaty.

Although the UN doesn’t officially regard the phrase as promoting abortion, many pro-abortion non-governmental organization do considering it promoting abortion and including it is seen as a first step in an international pro-abortion effort to topple the laws of numerous South American, African and Islamic nations.

The second debate involves the disabled and, led by Qatar, a Middle East state, several pro-life nations rallied to make sure the disabled were not denied the right to food and water, as happened to Terri Schiavo.

According to the Friday Fax, a publication of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute, a pro-life NGO that lobbies UN diplomats, only Finland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, spoke up in favor of a provision denying the disabled lifesaving medical treatment. The report indicates the EU is split, with some nations backing the provision and others opposing it.

The C-FAM report indicated Finland argued that the provision was vague and didn’t call to the denial of treatment in any specific circumstances. Writing for the pro-life group, Susan Yoshihara pointed out the irony in Finland’s stance, saying it called for specific applications on the "reproductive rights" language — specifically allowing abortion.

Wayne Cockfield of National Right to Life, a double amputee confined to a wheelchair, commented on the kind of euthanasia some countries advocate.

“This kind of ‘passive euthanasia’ based upon a perceived poor quality of life is the number one killer of the disabled," he told the Friday Fax. "They won’t kill me because I’m in a wheelchair, they will kill me because they say I’m ‘trapped in my own body.’"

Mark Pickup, a disability rights advocate in Canada who also is confined to a wheelchair because of the progression of his multiple sclerosis, agrees with Cockfield.

Before the latest meeting on the UN treaty began, he said the members of the Canadian UN delegation debating the treaty should be replaced. He indicated they were in favor of abortion and euthanasia and should be replaced with representatives who reflected the new Conservative government Canadian voters put in office earlier this year.

"The Canadian delegation was not replaced, or replaced with people of like-mind, so typical of past Liberal regimes," Pickup said in a statement given to "Now the Canadian team is in New York creating the same mischief as before."

"If Canada truly embraces universal human rights then they must extend to all human life, not just some," Pickup said.

Meanwhile, in comments to the committee debating the UN treaty, Joseph Mauceri of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, said the debates on abortion and euthanasia are interwoven.

He said abortion advocates and euthanasia advocates agree that unborn children diagnosed with mental or physical handicaps should be subject to abortions.

"Particular concern is raised against any intra or extra utero screening be used to mark new human beings for termination," Mauceri explained. "A society which seeks to reduce suffering by abortion or by euthanasia of a disabled newborn, or at any time thereafter, will devour itself."

"Accordingly, the FIAMC delegation opposes any linkage of reproductive rights, so called, to the prevention, treatment or politicization of disabilities," Mauceri said.