UN Report Claims Not Offering Women Abortion Equals Torture

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 8, 2013   |   12:23PM   |   New York, NY

On International Women’s Day, the United Nations is coming under criticism for a report claiming that nations that fail to allow legalized abortion are allowing the “torture and ill treatment” of women.

Juan E. Mendez, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Punishment, says not allowing women a chance to detect fetal abnormalities before birth, and having a chance to kill their baby in an abortion if such problems are detected, is wrong.

“International and regional human rights bodies have begun to recognize that abuse and mistreatment of women seeking reproductive health services can cause tremendous and lasting physical and emotional suffering, inflicted on the basis of gender. Examples of such violations include…denial of legally available health services such as abortion and post-abortion care,” he said in the report, saying he was promoting “the reproductive rights practices in health-care settings that he believes amount to torture or ill-treatment.”

“In the case of R.R. v. Poland, for instance, ECHR found a violation of article 3 in the case of a woman who was denied access to prenatal genetic testing when an ultrasound revealed a potential foetal abnormality,” he said in the report.

The report is upsetting because it is based largely on a 2010 report issued by the pro-abortion group Center for Reproductive Rights, that used essentially the same language in equating the denial of abortion to torture.

The pro-abortion group said in 2010: “In recent years, the Center for Reproductive Rights (the Center) and other civil society organizations have extensively documented the ways in which abuses of women’s sexual and reproductive rights rise to the level of torture or CIDT and have advocated for recognition of the severity of these violations. The situation is continuing to change as international and regional human rights bodies and experts increasingly recognize that certain reproductive rights violations amount to torture or CIDT.”

It continued: “As the United Nations (UN) Committee against Torture (CAT Committee) has repeatedly stated, the right to be free from torture and CIDT carries with it non-derogable state obligations to prevent, punish, and redress violations of this right. By highlighting the links between the right to be free from torture and CIDT and other human rights, such as the right to the highest attainable standard of health, advocates can place greater pressure on states to take immediate and effective action to respect, protect, and fulfil women’s reproductive rights. Recognizing these rights violations as forms of torture or CIDT reinforces state’s legal obligations to provide appropriate remedies and reparations.

The UN has attempted to use the issue of torture to pressure pro-life nations to legalize abortion previously.

The UN Committee against Torture, responsible for monitoring signatory countries’ implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, pressured Ireland in 2011.

The 10 member Committee urged Ireland to enact changes in law and policy to allow access to abortion despite the fact that the Irish constitution protects the right to life of unborn children. The Irish constitution “acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”



According to Marie Smith, Director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues (PNCI), “In this observation we read the most radical pro-abortion view coming from the Committee against Torture pressuring Ireland to provide access to abortion despite the fact that the treaty has nothing to do with abortion. The Convention is distorted to equate laws that protect unborn children from abortion with cruelty to women while ignoring the inhumane treatment of unborn children through the violence of abortion.”

“The deliberate manipulation of this treaty which was enacted to protect lives in order to advance a radical pro-abortion agenda is a disservice to the women, men and children around the world who suffer daily from cruel and degrading treatment as well as outright torture,” Smith said.

Smith continued, “Hopefully the Irish government recognizes its sovereign right to determine its laws on abortion and maintains its constitutional protection for unborn children which results in Ireland-with the world’s lowest maternal mortality rate-being the safest place in the world for women to give birth.”