UN Committee Tells Peru: Compensate Girl Denied Abortion

International   Stefano Gennarini   Nov 10, 2011   |   5:07PM    Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru (LifeNews/CFAM) — This week a UN committee told the government of Peru it must liberalize its country’s abortion laws and compensate a teenage girl who was denied an abortion in 2009.

The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), a New York-based pro-abortion law firm, reported on the conclusion of a proceeding under the optional protocol of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), even though the official decision has not yet been published by the CEDAW committee. It involves the case of L.C. v. Peru, brought before the CEDAW committee by CRR.

CRR claimed a teenage girl was raped repeatedly and became pregnant as a result. She tried to commit suicide by jumping off a building, and survived. She was left in need of spinal surgery, but, according to CRR, doctors would not operate because she was pregnant. They operated on her once she had miscarried, but the girl nevertheless became a quadriplegic. CRR’s argument to the committee was that the condition was a result of denying her an abortion, and the committee reportedly agreed with CRR.

The CRR touts this disposition as a groundbreaking victory for abortion advocates. The CEDAW committee reportedly ordered the Peruvian government to provide L.C. reparation and compensation, as well as rehabilitation measures. CRR also reports that the committee ruled that Peru must amend its laws to permit abortion in cases of rape, and guarantee that abortions will be carried out in those cases when they are legal.

While the L.C. case is another notch in the belt for abortion advocates, it is neither as great nor groundbreaking a victory as CRR presents it to be.

The case is not a great victory because of its limited legal significance. While the optional protocol to the CEDAW convention does allow individuals to bring complaints to the CEDAW committee in quasi-judicial proceedings, the disposition of these complaints has little to no legal significance. The optional protocol calls these dispositions “Views” and “Recommendations” and not orders or rulings. Moreover, the views of the committee are not binding on States. The protocol merely asks that the States involved in these proceedings give the committee views “due consideration.”

Nor is the case groundbreaking because the position of UN bodies on abortion has been known for a long time. Peru is one of several Latin American countries that criminalize abortion. These countries are repeatedly scolded by UN bodies for failing to come into the fold. The Human Rights Committee told Peru to change its abortion laws in 2005 in the K.L. v. Peru case, another optional protocol proceeding, but Peru stood its ground. It has also been ordered by CEDAW to change its laws on abortion before, and again, it has not let itself be pushed around.  It remains to be seen whether Peru still has the political will to resist capitulation.

LifeNews.com Note: Stefano Gennarini 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.