President Obama Picks Pro-Abortion Harold Koh as Top State Department Atty

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 7, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

President Obama Picks Pro-Abortion Harold Koh as Top State Department Atty

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 7
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — President Barack Obama has named a pro-abortion law professor as the top lawyer for the State Department. Obama’s decision to select Harold Hongju Koh, the dean of Yale Law School, is a concern not only because he is pro-abortion but because he thinks it should become an international right.

Harold Koh, the leading attorney for the State Department, could urge the Secretary of State and other officials to press for a new standard beyond the so-called privacy basis to justify keeping Roe and its ruling that unlimited abortions should be legal throughout pregnancy for any reason.

Koh has pressed for the importation of ‘transnational’ social norms on contentious issues like abortion.

His writings have redefined sovereignty as “a nation’s capacity to participate in international affairs,” and have blurred any distinctive national identity.

That’s important because abortion advocates at the international level want to make abortion a right and use international documents to trump national laws of pro-life nations.

Austin Ruse, the president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, a pro-life group that lobbies at the United Nations, points out the problems with the Koh nomination in a new editorial for Human Events, a conservative newsweekly. The piece is co-written with CFAM staffer Susan Yoshihara.

Ruse points out that Koh has written that "U.S. courts can and should use their interpretive power to promote the development of a global legal system."

He responds: "What this means practically is that policy makers and especially the Federal Courts should look beyond our shores to interpret the U.S. Constitution."

"Pro-life and pro-family activists know the system Koh promotes very well," Ruse says. "Social conservatives, almost alone on the center right of American politics, have spent years at the United Nations fighting back against the encroachment of international bureaucrats upon the decisions properly left to the democratic process."

Ruse also notes that Koh filed a brief in the Supreme Court case of Lawrence v. Texas saying, “This court has traditionally used international and foreign law rulings to aid its constitutional interpretations.”

Ruse says Koh is wrong.

"The Supreme Court interprets domestic law only under the U.S. Constitution. The only times it refers to international law is in interpreting international law — and even then, only when international law doesn’t contradict the Constitution and where U.S. law is not clear," he explained.

Ruse says Koh would have the United Nations tell the United States and other countries to legalize abortion and not set any limits on it.

"The Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women had directed more than 90 countries to change their laws on abortion even though the treaty is silent on abortion," he writes. "The Committee on Human Rights now interprets the ‘right to life’ as a right to abortion. Koh approves.

"Koh not only wants the U.S. to dance before these committees, he wants these committees to set U.S. social policy," he adds.

Ultimately, Ruse calls on pro-life advocates to ask their elected officials to oppose the Koh nomination.

"Someone who believes all this is a danger to the democratic process and to the republic. Congress must reject Koh as top legal advisor to the U.S. State Department," he says.

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