Center for Reproductive Rights Continues Pushing Abortion on Pro-Life Nations

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 23, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Center for Reproductive Rights Continues Pushing Abortion on Pro-Life Nations

by Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D.
April 23, 2010 Note: Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D. writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Friday Fax publication and is used with permission.

New York, NY ( — A top abortion-rights law firm recently released its conclusion that the last decade of international legal trends indicate that abortion is not only an international human right, but that government funding is part of that right.

They claim that the “vicious” health care debate in the United States over abortion funding shows that the U.S. is flouting international law.

In “Reproductive Rights at the Start of the 21st Century: Global Progress, Yet Backpedaling on Gains in U.S.,” the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) argues that “funding for abortion services has increasingly been recognized as a necessary tool for ensuring access to a fundamental human right.”

To back this claim, CRR refers to 21 European countries, Colombia, and South Africa, which partially fund abortion, as well as Nepal and Mexico City, which “provide funding for poor women as an element of the abortion right itself.”

In contrast, CRR says, the “recent debate over insurance coverage for abortions makes it painfully obvious that the United States has failed to keep up with international norms on abortion rights and must re-examine its funding policies if it is to continue its leadership on women’s rights and autonomy.” CRR calls President Obama’s executive order against tax payer-funded abortions “misguided.”

To support its assertions, the retrospective offers two national court decisions, one in 2005 by Ethiopia and another in 2006 by the Colombia constitutional court. The rest of CRR’s claim is based upon non-binding statements by U.N. committees, such as a 2005 finding by the Human Rights Committee that Peru violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights because a woman suffered “deep depression” after bearing a child with anencephaly.

The document also claims that “family planning is increasingly being understood in terms of equality and non-discrimination,” and not just health care. To support this, CRR cites non-binding comments by the Human Rights Committee from 2000 and by the committee that oversees the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) from 2008.

The retrospective also asserts that nations violate international law when they have high maternal mortality rates. To support this, the document cites a 2009 non-binding resolution by the Human Rights Council and mentions comments by UN treaty monitoring bodies.

Piero Tozzi, J.D., C-FAM senior fellow, told the Friday Fax that the global trend is actually going in the opposite direction from what CRR asserts:

“In the past decade, Poland, El Salvador and Nicaragua tightened their restrictions on abortion. In the past year or so, the constitutions of the Dominican Republic and a majority of Mexican States were amended to explicitly protect life from conception, as was the penal law of East Timor. We have also seen constitutional courts of Chile and Peru determine that the so-called ‘morning after pill’ violates those countries’ constitutional protections of unborn life, due to its potential abortifacient effects, and a similar determination made by the Honduran legislature."

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