By Laura Cunliffe, Executive Director and VP of Policy for Family Watch International
In a disturbing and fallacious statement recently released, multiple UN “experts” claimed that laws protecting unborn children by restricting access to abortion are inhumane. Certainly this is a clear case of putting wrong for right and right for wrong. Certainly allowing the unfettered killing of unborn children is inhumane and not the other way around.
In their new report, these UN “experts” who advise UN human rights bodies (which fortunately have no authority to make or change laws or policies) promoted universal and unrestricted access to so-called “safe” abortion for all women and girls and actually went so far as to label abortion “essential healthcare” and a “human right.”
First, we can never accept the premise that abortion, under any circumstances can be “safe.” Abortion is never safe. Not for the mother. Not for the baby. The physical, emotional and spiritual toll it takes on a mother is well documented. At the risk of stating the obvious, taking the life of a child is always inherently “unsafe” for the child. In fact, abortion is a painful process for both mother and child, and it is now understood and acknowledged that a baby as young as 20 weeks in utero can experience pain.
Moving past the hypocrisy and idiocy of these false claims, these UN “experts” also falsely state that a mother’s health is jeopardized if she is not given access to abortion services and concludes that laws restricting abortion foster inequality (with men), are oppressive, and even constitute violence against women.
“Denial of access to abortion services jeopardizes a person’s physical and mental health and takes away their autonomy and agency. It unjustly denies them the freedom to live with dignity and on equal terms with other human beings while exposing them to various forms of violence and oppression.”
Certainly motherhood can be one of the most rewarding and influential roles for a woman in her lifetime. It is the mothers of the world who promote prosperity, success and growth in communities around the world. Without mothers and their babies, there can be no sustainable development.
Though UN policy documents have recognized the important role of mothers with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) even stating that motherhood and childhood merit special care and assistance, there are many UN entities, including UN Women, that are increasingly denigrating the value and role of mothers under the banner of promoting “gender equality.” And while women and men are different, they are at the same time inherently equal.
These so-called experts also have the audacity to suggest that laws protecting unborn children violate international human rights law stating:
“All branches of government, office bearers and political actors are duty bound to fulfill these obligations. Those serving in a legislative, executive or a judicial capacity must not be complicit in violating human rights.”
The UDHR, the UN’s preeminent “milestone” human rights document establishes as one of the most basic of rights the promise that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”
The UDHR says “everyone,” not everyone but the unborn. There is no caveat that nullifies this right just because a newly conceived life may be unexpected or unplanned.
Moreover, another prominent UN document, the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child, actually provides special protection for children before birth stating, “Whereas the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.” This is also echoed in the binding UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
We can only assume, therefore, that the UN “experts” making the claim that life is not protected in international law are actually not international law “experts” at all, but rather, abortion rights activists masquerading as UN experts.
And they did not stop there. In this short and unsubstantiated call to action, the “experts” have also made a mockery of religious liberty calling defenders of pre-born persons “religious fundamentalists” that have led a “global political backlash against gender equality”– as if granting a woman a “right” to kill her unborn child is essential “gender equality.”
UN human rights treaties have clearly recognized the right to manifest one’s religion or belief. So ironically, these UN “experts” are drawing conclusions that are contrary to the binding documents to which they owe their existence and which they have mandates to uphold. This feigned attempt to discredit people of faith is not only a violation of well-established religious liberty protections, but is also an affront to basic human dignity and respect for those with different beliefs and opinions.
The Human Rights Council has actually mandated the independent expert on freedom of religion or belief to “ensure the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of religion or belief, to identify existing and emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief, and to recommend remedial measures as appropriate.” Yet this UN “expert” has signed onto this statement that undermines his very mandate.
In sum, this egregious statement in commemoration of “International Safe Abortion Day” misleads parents, policymakers and countries by deceptively claiming that abortion is a right enshrined in international human rights law. It is reprehensible that the UN has allowed unaccountable individuals to take it upon themselves to reinterpret unambiguous treaty language, and then pressure governments to comply with their non-binding recommendations.
We simply cannot not allow these UN “experts” to bully countries and policymakers with their ultra vires misinterpretations of international human rights law that impacts unborn babies worldwide.
Abortion is never “safe.”
There is no international right to abortion.
To the contrary, there is an international right to life for the unborn.
Instead of acquiescing to the false claim that governments must provide unfettered access to abortion, we call on all UN Member States and the United Nations system to fulfill their obligations under international human rights law to protect both women and their unborn children.
Anything short of this is an abuse of human rights.