The United Nations Human Rights Committee is currently consulting on a new Draft General Comment on Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This Comment provides a particular interpretation of the Article 6 – the Right to Life – by which Article 6 is understood to support radical views on abortion and euthanasia.
The authors of this General Comment are attempting to twist the “right to life” as enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to support the decriminalisation of abortion i.e. making abortion completely lawful up to birth.
It is Paragraph 9 of this General Comment which contains an unashamed ideological push that would provide significant ammunition to the pro-abortion lobby internationally:
“Although States parties may adopt measures designed to regulate terminations of pregnancy, such measures must not result in violation of the right to life of a pregnant woman or her other rights under the Covenant, including the prohibition against cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. Thus, any legal restrictions on the ability of women to seek abortion must not, inter alia, jeopardize their lives or subject them to physical or mental pain or suffering which violates article 7.”
While this might sound like a relatively moderate paragraph as most countries do permit abortion in cases where the mother’s life is in danger, the reference to “mental pain or suffering” shows that the authors intend abortion to be available on demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy.
This is especially clear when read in the light the UN Special Rapporteur on torture’s recent statement that denying women abortions is equivalent to torture.
Therefore, paragraph 9 strongly advocates for the right to abortion up to birth on demand without reservation, and ignores the fact that its recommendations are in conflict with most countries’ legislation on abortion.
It further advocates for the removal of criminal sanctions against women undergoing abortion or against physicians assisting them in doing so. This effectively means that any bans on abortion would not be practically possible to enforce, especially in light of abortion advocacy at the United Nations which claims that any legal or practical restrictions on abortion necessarily leads to an increase in “unsafe abortions.”
If this new General Comment is introduced, it will be used by abortion advocates around the world to attempt to force abortion up to birth on countries.
Abortion lobbyists are currently putting a particular focus on changing abortion laws in developing countries to reflect their desires, so it is likely that many developing countries would be put under strong pressure to change their laws if this comment is adopted in its current form.
If the Committee’s current recommendations were implemented in the UK, it would almost certainly result in a repeal of the 1967 Abortion Act and the legalization of abortion up to birth across England, Wales, Scotland and N Ireland. Abortion extremists would be able to use this General Comment to bolster their own campaign to allow abortion up to birth in the UK.
This is a common tactic of certain activists within the UN which cynically twists international conventions to further its own political agenda. On this occasion, abortion ideologues are attempting to reinterpret the right to life and find a therein a right to abortion.
Sadly, the Committee’s attack on the right to life does not end there. The proposed General Comment also supports assisted suicide on extremely broad grounds.
The Committee is acting far beyond its remit and in an entirely ideologically driven way. It is ignoring the sovereignty of nation states in its attempts to promote abortion without limit and euthanasia/assisted suicide.
Whilst the abortion lobby is having mixed success at national level where many countries rightly reject the extremist abortion agenda, judges, lawyers, bureaucrats and academics in the Committee are attempting to impose their own extremist views on abortion on nations which do not want it.
Please sign this petition to the UN Human Rights Committee rejecting their gross distortion of the right to life.
Paragraphs 9 and 10 in full…
9. Although States parties may adopt measures designed to regulate terminations of pregnancy, such measures must not result in violation of the right to life of a pregnant woman or her other rights under the Covenant, including the prohibition against cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. Thus, any legal restrictions on the ability of women to seek abortion must not, inter alia, jeopardize their lives or subject them to physical or mental pain or suffering which violates article 7. States parties must provide safe access to abortion to protect the life and health of pregnant women, and in situations in which carrying a pregnancy to term would cause the woman substantial pain or suffering, most notably where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or when the foetus suffers from fatal impairment. States parties may not regulate pregnancy or abortion in a manner that runs contrary to their duty to ensure that women do not have to undertake unsafe abortions. [For example, they should not take measures such as criminalizing pregnancies by unmarried women or applying criminal sanctions against women undergoing abortion or against physicians assisting them in doing so, when taking such measures is expected to significantly increase resort to unsafe abortions]. Nor should States parties introduce humiliating or unreasonably burdensome requirements on women seeking to undergo abortion. The duty to protect the lives of women against the health risks associated with unsafe abortions requires States parties to ensure access for women and men, and, in particular, adolescents, to information and education about reproductive options, and to a wide range of contraceptive methods. States parties must also ensure the availability of adequate prenatal and post-abortion health care for pregnant women.
10. [While acknowledging the central importance to human dignity of personal autonomy, the Committee considers that States parties should recognize that individuals planning or attempting to commit suicide may be doing so because they are undergoing a momentary crisis which may affect their ability to make irreversible decisions, such as to terminate their life. Therefore,] States should take adequate measures, without violating their other Covenant obligations, to prevent suicides, especially among individuals in particularly vulnerable situations. At the same time, States parties [may allow] [should not prevent] medical professionals to provide medical treatment or the medical means in order to facilitate the termination of life of [catastrophically] afflicted adults, such as the mortally wounded or terminally ill, who experience severe physical or mental pain and suffering and wish to die with dignity. In such cases, States parties must ensure the existence of robust legal and institutional safeguards to verify that medical professionals are complying with the free, informed, explicit and, unambiguous decision of their patients, with a view to protecting patients from pressure and abuse.