Senate OKs Nomination of Pro-Abortion Harold Koh as Top State Dept Attorney

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 25, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate OKs Nomination of Pro-Abortion Harold Koh as Top State Dept Attorney

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 25
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The Senate has approved the nomination of Harold Koh, the abortion activist President Barack Obama chose as the top lawyer for the State Department. Koh is a concern for pro-life advocates not only because he is pro-abortion but because he thinks it should become an international right.

The Senate voted 62-35 to confirm Koh for the influential State Department post.

The vote divided largely on partisan and abortion-related grounds with the core group of pro-life Republicans voting against Koh and liberal, pro-abortion Republicans joining all Senate Democrats in supporting his bid.

"Too bad his defense of human rights doesn’t extend to not-yet-born babies," Charmaine Yoest, the president of Americans United for Life, told in response to the vote.

As the leading attorney for the State Department, Koh 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, pointed 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 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.

Senator Jim DeMint, a pro-life South Carolina Republican, pointed out those problems as well during a floor speech in the Senate earlier this week.

ACTION: See how your senator voted on the Koh nomination here and go to to tell your senators how you feel about their vote.

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