Pro-Life Groups Tell United Nations: Don’t Push for Abortion

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 23, 2010   |   5:35PM   |   New York, NY

A joint brief submitted this week criticizes a UN committee’s abuse of authority amid a back-door push for international abortion rights.

by Seana Cranston, JD

C-FAM and the Alliance Defense Fund together outlined why they oppose the committee’s move to endorse a right to sexual and reproductive health. They acted in anticipation of a meeting called by the committee, one of many that oversee specific UN treaties, scheduled for next month in Geneva.

The committee, which monitors the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, scheduled the discussion as it prepares to endorse the right to sexual and reproductive health.

This week’s petition makes two arguments. It contends the committee has no authority to suggest the treaty includes a right to sexual and reproductive health because the treaty does not mention the phrase. Second, assuming for the sake of argument that the treaty contained the language, the right to sexual and reproductive health does not include abortion.

When countries negotiate treaties, argues the brief, they consent only to those terms contained in the plain text, and nothing more. Since the words “sexual and reproductive health” do not appear in the treaty’s text, the committee lacks the authority to endorse such a right.

The brief cites what it calls a coordinated stealth strategy, led by various pro-abortion groups, to fabricate a non-existent international right to abortion through the use of treaty monitoring bodies.

Last year, the same treaty committee released what’s called a “general comment” that instructed countries to grant broad new human rights on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, even though the terms did not appear in the treaty.

The effort to invent a new right to sexual and reproductive health through treaty committees can be traced to a 1996 roundtable held in Glen Cove, New York. As documented in the C-FAM white paper “Rights By Stealth,” the roundtable sought to create an international right to abortion by reinterpreting various human rights treaties via their monitoring committees.

One of the roundtable’s recommendations urged the heads of the various UN treaty monitoring committees to set aside a day “for consideration of particular thematic issues, including the right to reproductive and sexual health.” This recommendation led to the upcoming discussion day called for by the committee that monitors the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, argues the brief.

No negotiated UN document includes the right to an abortion. As the Friday Fax previously reported, the only global treaty that contains a reference to sexual and reproductive health—the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities –excludes abortion. At the time the treaty was adopted, 15 countries said they understood the term “sexual and reproductive health” to exclude abortion. Note: Seana Cranston, JD 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.