Pro-Life Advocates: UN Treaty on Disabled Presents No Problems on Abortion

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 5, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Advocates: UN Treaty on Disabled Doesn’t Promote Abortion

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 5
, 2009

New York, NY ( — The pro-life advocates who are the leading lobbyists on abortion issues at the United Nations say a UN treaty on the disabled doesn’t confere a right to abortion.

One recent editorial from a pro-life advocate smade the case that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities "clearly means access to abortion and abortion rights."

But Austin Ruse and Piero A. Tozzi, the leaders of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, tell today that the treaty does not confer promote an international abortion right using the term "reproductive health.:

"The term has provoked concern among pro-lifers, who worry that it creates an implicit right to abortion. Let us emphatically state: It does not," they say.

Ruse and Tozzi say any misstatement is understandable because abortion advocates are good at confusing the meaning of phrases.

"There is some confusion about UN documents related to abortion and the proponents of abortion like it that way. Their strategy is to claim that terms like ‘reproductive health’ mean abortion, and, by dint of repetition, get people to believe that it does," they say.

Although abortion advocates say "reproductive health" means abortion, Ruse and Tozzi say "that is not how the term is used in any negotiated UN document."

During the Disabilities Convention, the pair note that the term was debated extensively and that, "it was clear throughout negotiations that ‘sexual and reproductive health’ did not include abortion."

The cite the official report of the convention, which notes that "this phrase was not intended to alter or prejudice the general policies of governments," which, they say, means "countries are free to keep their laws protecting the unborn in place."

Some 15 nations made statements saying the phrase did not mean a right to abortion and the United States, in its closing statement, affirmed that the term "cannot be interpreted to constitute support, endorsement, or promotion of abortion."

Ruse and Tozzi caution pro-life advocates to be careful when discussing UN conventions and treaties because abortion advocates want the pr-life movement to buy into the notion that reproductive health means abortion.

"This conference was a victory for pro-lifers, who beat back a concerted attempt by the Clinton Administration and their European allies to establish a right to abortion. Yet following defeat, the other side has tried to rewrite the story as a victory for abortion rights," they say.

At the same time, the CFAM leaders say pro-life advocates should not stop focusing on the attempt by pro-abortion groups to misuse the language to assert abortion.

"No, pro-lifers should be concerned with Disabilities as with any treaty, because even though the Disabilities Convention does not create a right to abortion, it does create a committee to monitor compliance with its terms," they warn. "UN compliance committees are often staffed with radicals who favor abortion, and, in their non-binding advisory recommendations, will hector countries about changing their laws protecting life."

Ruse and Tozzi aren’t the only ones who have problems with analysis that the treaty promotes an abortion right.

Jeanne Head, the UN Representative for the National Right to Life Committee, agreed with the CFAM analysis of the "reproductive health" language.

She said "all parties maintained that the term does not include abortion and that its inclusion in this treaty cannot be interpreted to create any new rights such as a right to abortion."

"Delegates from pro-life nations ultimately accepted this language because they were assured and became confident that it does not include abortion or create any new human rights such as a right to abortion," she recalled of the convention.

Head told that Ambassador McKay of New Zealand, the treaty chairman, repeatedly told delegates that the use of the term "reproductive health" in this treaty does not create any new human rights such as abortion.

"He even added a non-binding footnote to the record of negotiations, not the treaty itself, which he claimed would preclude any such misinterpretation of the term," Head added.

Head also concurred with Ruse and Tozzi in saying that monitoring committees should not exceed their non-abortion mandate.

"In light of all these statements and the language of the treaty, the committee responsible for enforcing compliance to this treaty would be going way beyond their mandate if they were to interpret the term ‘reproductive health’ to include abortion," she said. "It is crucial that they do not because nations that sign and ratify a treaty are required to change their laws in order to comply with the treaty."

Head also warned that the pro-life community needs to remain on alert for other attempts by abortion advocates to misuse terms to promote abortion.

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