United Nations Backs Report Calling Abortion a Human Right

International   |   Dougls Sylva   |   Sep 23, 2011   |   11:04AM   |   Washington, DC

New York, NY (CFAM/LifeNews) — While world attention may be focused on the UN General Assembly as it grapples with Palestinian statehood, the methodical drive by United Nations officials to promote legal abortion internationally goes on largely unnoticed.  During the summer months, when press coverage of UN activities is minimal, the UN Secretariat released a report from the UN Human Rights Council calling on all nations to accept that women and girls must be granted access to legal abortion in order for them to fully enjoy their human rights.

The report, written by UN Special Rapporteur Anand Grover, links abortion on demand with the fundamental right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. According to Grover, “Criminal laws penalizing and restricting induced abortion are the paradigmatic examples of impermissible barriers to the realization of women’s right to health and must be eliminated.”

Grover goes on to say that legalizing abortion, alone, is not enough for states to avoid violating women’s right to health. States must also actively promote the procedure. “States must take measures to ensure that legal and safe abortion services are available, accessible, and of good quality. Safe abortions, however, will not immediately be available upon decriminalization unless States create conditions under which they may be provided. These conditions include establishing available and accessible clinics; the provision of additional training for physicians and health-care workers; enacting licensing requirements and ensuring the availability of the latest and safest medicines and equipment.”

Grover also claims that women must have access to abortion in order to protect their mental health. According to Grover, “while the psychological impact of seeking an illegal abortion or carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term is well documented, no corresponding evidence supports the existence of long-term mental health sequelae resulting from elective abortion.”

Grover shows concern that women who abuse drugs while pregnant may be charged with child abuse: “In some instances, civil legislation related to child welfare has been expanded to include punitive sanctions for prenatal drug exposure, where such exposure may provide a ground for the termination of parental rights and the removal of the child upon birth. A pregnant woman’s positive toxicology report or clinical signs of drug exposure in newborns, may be regarded as proof of child abuse or neglect under these legislative schemes.” Therefore, Grover calls upon States to “Suspend/abolish the application of existing criminal laws to various forms of conduct during pregnancy, such as conduct related to treatment of the foetus, most notably miscarriage, alcohol and drug consumption and HIV transmission.”

The report begins with a note from UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, stating that he “has the honour” of presenting the report to the UN General Assembly. While such a note follows normal UN protocol, it bears wondering how the UN system can still maintain a stance of official neutrality on abortion in light of the contents of this particular report.

States that recognize the right to life of the unborn may also seek to assert that doing so does not make them violators of their female citizens’ right to health.

LifeNews.com Note: Douglas Sylva 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.