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Aanew International Push For Abortion
The International Push for Abortion Rights and the Family Agenda at the United Nations Dr. Brian Scarnecchia, M.Div., J.D. International Solidarity and Human Rights Institute www.ishri.net www.ngovoice.com
Outline I. Secure Abortion Rights Internationally – A Stealth Campaign by Center for Reproductive Rights II. Protecting Children Internationally – The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Study on Violence Against Babies III. Some Family Issues at the UN
Part I. Secure Abortion Rights Internationally – a Stealth Campaign by Center for Reproductive Rights
My remarks in this portion of my lecture are drawn in large part from the paper written by Dr. Stephen Krason, President of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists: “The International Pro-Abortion litigation Strategy: An Anti-Democratic Plan to Force Legalized Abortion on the World’s Governments” Catholic Family & Human Rights Inst., White Paper Series , No 6, (2006).
<ul><li>2003 US Congressman from New Jersey, Christopher Smith entered into the Record of the House documents from strategy sessions of the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) (Cong. Rec.,108 th Cong.,1 st Sess. E2534 (Rep.Smith) (Dec.8 2003) -The Center for Reproductive Rights (formerly Center for Reproductive Law & Policy) (born out of ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project) works tirelessly to promote international Abortion rights. -CRR mission: Research & reporting of national laws, policies and judicial decisions Litigation, Documenting violation, Training NGOs and Lawyers </li></ul>
<ul><li>CRR strategy sessions laid out international objectives, alternative strategies, and evaluated the pros and cons of each approach to secure international Abortion rights Two ways were suggested: 1) a new multilateral human rights treaty specifically protecting the full range of ‘”reproductive rights,” including abortion 2) securing favorable international interpretations of provisions of existing treaties by various international committees, tribunals, or other bodies (including national bodies) </li></ul>
The second approach – gaining favorable interpretations of existing Treaties by international and national bodies – they thought would be especially effective. This will achieve a coordination of analogous and reinforcing national and international norms on abortion rights.
The Stealth Approach to make Abortion an international right consists in this: 1. Establish abortion rights in the domestic law of several nations, often by claiming international norms require it; 2. Then arguing that the growing trend of domestic law of several nations need to be reflected in more comprehensive legal guarantees on the international level.
To achieve favorable abortion laws in national and regional venues the CRR suggests working “in a smaller number of focus countries” and on “honing” its ability to “provide cutting edge input on relevant international and regional norms and on providing a comparative legal perspective (i.e. analysis of laws and judicial decisions across countries).” The more nations that come online with new or expanded abortion rights, the more they forge new international norms in favor of abortion rights.
The CRR said, to establish new international abortion rights both “hard norms” and “soft norms” can be exploited: 1) hard norms – are binding bilateral or multilateral treaties; 2) soft norms – are the statements, platforms of action, declarations, resolutions made at regional and international conferences by the UN or other inter-governmental agencies or the reports of special rapporteurs. The CRR noted that abortion rights gained momentum after the Cairo conference even though Cairo failed to achieve a right to abortion
CRR strategy to craft an international right to abortion will twist the meaning of already agreed upon legal norms and human rights to include the necessity of access to legal abortion. Such existing norms and human rights include - the right to life, liberty, security, health, to consent to marriage, to be free from discrimination, to not be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, and to be free from sexual violence.
The CRR also hopes to gain greater acceptance for rights more closely associated with Abortion but less clearly recognized as long standing human rights such as the so called rights – “the right to reproductive health,” “family planning,” “the right to equality in marriage,” “the right to privacy” and the “right to modify traditions or customs that violate women’s rights.”
The CRR stated that the most effective right to twist would be the “Right to Life”: How can a woman’s Right to Life and health be secure unless she is free from any pressure whatsoever to undergo unsafe abortions. The CRR goes on to claim that there are 78,000 deaths world wide and “hundreds of thousands of disabilities” each year because of “unsafe abortion.”
Another Stealth aspect of the CRR strategy is to advance its agenda by bringing cases concerning abortion before regional and international human rights court-like bodies and before domestic courts on international law grounds. There is less scrutiny over the decisions of UN court-like bodies or domestic courts making changes in domestic law based on international law than changes in law brought before domestic legislatures. Judges simply announce the right to abortion and legislatures may be reluctant to repeal judge-made law, even though they would not have legislated abortion in the first place.
In order to counter opposition to the tactics the CRR suggests their operatives need to questioned the credibility of reactionaries and to “fight harder” and “be a little dirtier.”
The CRR documents correctly point out that there is no internationally recognized right to abortion. But, as legal scholars point out (Wilkins and Krason), there seems to be a nearly inexhaustible supply of language which encompasses the possibility of a right to abortion, but without any express reference to the practice, such as “reproductive” – rights, services, health, care. Also, these documents usually include language preserving national sovereignty on questions of human fertility or contain reservations of the nations to the effect that nothing contained therein will “alter national or international law related to the regulation of abortion.” Therefore, nations often agree to not oppose their inclusion in consensus documents.
For instance, the United States recently said neither the Cairo nor Beijing Conferences established a right to abortion by the use of the term “reproductive health”: “I do wish to make one point clear. The United States understands that reference to [Cairo]…and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action… do not create any rights and cannot be interpreted to constitute support, endorsement, or promotion of abortion.” (US Ambassador to the UN, John R. Bolton, on the Outcome Document, in the UN General Assembly, September 16, 2005, USUN Press Release #159 (05) September 14, 2005)
The CRR hopes that UN soft law (declarations, resolutions, platforms for action) will serve as – persuasive authority for national domestic tribunals and legislatures, ruling bodies of provinces or even city councils so that they may then reference these new international norms and consensus as a basis for changing their own national, state or local laws.
For Instance, Yesterday Dr. Acosta related an incident to me of how recently she had to explain the meaning of “reproductive health” to members of the City Council of Legaspi who were going to pass a city ordinance guaranteeing such rights to all residents.
“ By repeatedly promoting abortion rights in international fora and providing their own particular interpretations to the often vague wording of international legal document, these groups hope to make the right to abortion a part of customary international law, which, while not explicitly agreed to by nations as with a treaty, will then enter their domestic legal systems and be declared binding on them.” ( Dr. Stephen Krason,“The International Pro-Abortion litigation Strategy”)
As we move to our next topic it is revealing to note that the CRR documents refer to the right of minors to “access reproductive and sexual health information and services.” They speak of “adolescents’ reproductive autonomy and decision-making,” and clearly seek to establish the adolescents’ right to confidentiality in receiving health services and information and to prohibit parental consent requirements for a legal abortion.” The CRR admits there is a lack of hard norms (treaties) guaranteeing such policies. But UN treaty monitoring bodies have interpreted existing treaties and state that these rights apply to minors and require states to provide sex education for minors.
Let us now turn our attention to one such treaty and its monitoring body – The Convention on the Rights of the Child
Part II. Protecting Children Internationally – The Convention on the Rights of the Child and Violence Against Babies
My remarks in this part of my lecture are drawn in large part from the follow paper: <ul><li>“ Violence Against Babies: </li></ul><ul><li>Protection of Pre- and Post-natal Children Under the Framework of the Convention on the Right of the Child” </li></ul><ul><li>submitted by </li></ul><ul><li>The World Family Policy Center, and The David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies, Brigham Young University - Provo, Utah, USA </li></ul><ul><li>written by </li></ul><ul><li>Bruce Abramson 2005 </li></ul><ul><li>[NGO Input Into the UN Study on Violence Against Children – using the Treaty on the Rights of the Child to protect children from Abortion] </li></ul>
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (1992) properly interpreted by The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969) protects Children from violence after and before birth.
The key issue is when the rights of Children begin under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The treaty reads: “For the purpose of the present Convention, a child means every human being below the age of 18 years…” (Article 1). However the UNICEF editor of Innocenti Digest , no.2 (Sept. 1997) claims otherwise: “A ‘child’ is defined [in this publication], as in the Convention [on the Rights of the Child], as everyone from birth to his or her 18 year”
So, does the term “ human being ” as used in The Convention of the Right of the Child include Children before as well as after birth? First, States did not limit the definition of “ human being as from the moment of birth which could have been easily done. Second, Article 24 states that the child has a right to pre-natal care. But a “child” can have a right to pre-natal care only if “ human being” in Article 1 is interpreted to cover the entire pre-natal period of life, a period which runs conception to delivery. So, the ordinary meaning of “ human being” - the offspring of human parents from conception onwards – is the only meaning which is fully consistent with the CRC as a whole.
Under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Article 31(1) it state: A treaty shall be interpreted [a] in good faith,[b] in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty,[c] in their context and [d] in light of its object and purpose. Once an interpretation has been arrived at, a corollary to this rule allows the legislative records to be used to confirm the reading. But the legislative records cannot be used to alter or over-ride the interpretation.
Turning the Center for Reproductive Rights Stealth Campaign against them: The correct interpretation of “Human Being”in the Convention the Rights of the Child – includes children before as well as after birth. Therefore, we should press for domestic courts, legislatures, city councils, etc. to interpret their domestic laws or proclaim ordinances guaranteeing the right to life of children before birth – not simply according to their national Constitution – but under International law expressed in the treaty obligations they have assumed and are bound to follow.
<ul><li>We need to think in terms of the “human family” and look upon </li></ul><ul><li>all members as “right bearers”. </li></ul>
3 Visions of the Human Family <ul><li>1 st Vision </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Peter Singer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Parents have absolute right to kill their children up to the 3 rd month after delivery. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>2 nd Vision </li></ul><ul><ul><li>UNICEF </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The law should protect babies only after they are born. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>3 rd Vision </li></ul><ul><ul><li>American Convention on Human Rights </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The law should protect babies during the pre-natal period of their lives, as well as after birth. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>General Assembly adopted 3 rd Vision in its 1959 UN declaration of the Rights of the Child. </li></ul>Abramson, 19-20
John Paul II <ul><li>“ The first right of the child is to ‘be born in a real family,’ a right that has not always been respected and that today is subject to new violations…” </li></ul>John Paul II, Address to the Committee of European Journalists for the Rights of the Child (13 January 1979): L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, 22 January 1979, p. 5.
Holy See , Charter Rights of the Rights of the Family (1983) <ul><li>All persons have the right to the free choice of their state of life and thus to marry and establish a family or to remain single. (1) </li></ul><ul><li>The spouses have the inalienable right to found a family and to decide on the spacing of births and the number of children to be born… in accordance with the objective moral order which excludes recourse to contraception, sterilization and abortion. (3) </li></ul><ul><li>Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. (4) </li></ul><ul><li>Since they have conferred life on their children, parents have the original, primary and inalienable right to educate them…. (5) </li></ul><ul><li>The family has the right to exist and to progress as a family. Divorce attacks the very institution of Marriage and the family. (6,a & b) </li></ul><ul><li>Every family has the right to live freely its own domestic religious life under the guidance of the parents, as well as the right to profess publicly and to propagate the faith, to take part in public worship and in freely chosen programs of religious instruction, without suffering discrimination. (7) </li></ul>
Charter of the Rights of the Family (con’t) <ul><li>The family has the right to exercise its social and political function in the construction of society. (8) </li></ul><ul><li>Families have the right to Economic conditions which assure them a standard of living appropriate to their dignity and full development. (9) </li></ul><ul><li>Remuneration for work must be sufficient for establishing and maintaining a family with dignity, wither through a suitable salary, called a “family wage,” or through other social measures…” (10) </li></ul><ul><li>The family has the right to decent housing, fitting for family life and commensurate to the number of the members, in a physical environment that provides the basic services for the life of the family and the community. (11) </li></ul><ul><li>The families of migrants have the right to the same protection as that accorded other families. (12) </li></ul>
Part III. Some Family Issues at the UN <ul><li>Convention on the Dignity and Rights of Persons with Disabilities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>UN Treaty Rejects New Rights to Abortion, Euthanasia, and Homosexuality. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Made conclusion that “sexual and reproductive health” rights do not include abortion, which has been debated in document since the Beijing +10 last year. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disabled have right to food and fluid. (ISHRI) </li></ul></ul>Susan Yoshihara, PhD, UN Treaty Rejects New Rights to Abortion, Euthanasia and homosexuality. The Friday Fax, catholic Family & Human Rights Institute Website (Aug. 31, 2006), http://www.c-am.org/FAX/Volume_9/faxv9n37.html
What is happening now… <ul><li>October 11, 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>There will be a special session in the General Assembly in New York to launch the Secretary General’s Report on Violence Against Children . The report ignores Abortion, Infanticide and Euthanasia of children. See, www.violencestudy.org </li></ul><ul><li>See, Bruce Abramson, Violence Against Babies: Protection of Pre- and Post-natal Children Under the Framework of the Convention on the Rights of the Child ,( Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 2005) </li></ul><ul><li>Also See, Declaration of the Rights of Children Before Birth </li></ul><ul><li>contact Patrick Buckley at </li></ul>
In the coming months… (C-FAM Friday Fax) <ul><li>The "general debate" for the </li></ul><ul><li>61 st Session of the UN General Assembly began on September 19 with addresses from a parade of heads of state. The leaders will address the pressing political, social and economic issues. The work of the Third Committee will happen from now until the end of December, where over 80 resolutions will be made on a wide-ranging variety of topics such as women and children’s rights, the family, the environment and the protection and promotion of human rights. </li></ul>
What can we do? Keeping up-to-date… <ul><li>www.c-fam.org </li></ul><ul><li>www.holyseemission.org </li></ul><ul><li>www.hli.org </li></ul><ul><li>www.ishri.net </li></ul><ul><li>www.ngovoice.com </li></ul><ul><li>www.un.org </li></ul>
<ul><li>International Solidarity & </li></ul><ul><li>Human Rights Institute </li></ul>
The US Supreme Court <ul><li>The “Franciscan 4” wrote the </li></ul><ul><li>Appendix to an appeal to the US </li></ul><ul><li>Supreme Court on incidents of force </li></ul><ul><li>abortion and violence against </li></ul><ul><li>pregnant women. The research was </li></ul><ul><li>key to the case, Jane Roe II v. </li></ul><ul><li>Aware Woman Center for Choice, </li></ul><ul><li>Inc. , involving a woman who demanded </li></ul><ul><li>to be allowed to leave the abortion </li></ul><ul><li>clinic but was physically restrained </li></ul><ul><li>and was forced to suffer an abortion </li></ul><ul><li>against her will. Her attorneys brought </li></ul><ul><li>suit against the abortionist under the </li></ul><ul><li>Federal Access to Clinics Act (FACE) </li></ul><ul><li>and won. </li></ul>
Beijing +10 Women’s Conference <ul><li>March 2005 </li></ul><ul><li>Dr. Laura Lederer, senior advisor on human trafficking to the US Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, explained that the State Department teamed up with the group of Franciscan University students Professor Brian Scarnecchia brought to the UN—to pass a resolution on trafficking that everyone had said was doomed to fail. </li></ul>
Convention for Persons with Disabilities <ul><li>ISHRI led student, Andrea Vrchota , addressed the UN. She supported treaty language guarantying food and water to persons with disabilities. Vrchota, who has cerebral palsy, spoke of her struggles and dreams. Her doctors said she would not live a week past her birth but instead… One member of the Disabilities Caucus said to her afterwards – “you have convinced us” and then they made an intervention agreeing with her. The next day a draft of the treaty was approved with provisions for food and water for persons with disabilities. </li></ul>
Defending Human Rights <ul><li>ISHRI president offered legal opinion to United Nations' Ad Hoc Committee on Persons with Disabilities, arguing that proposed language in the document could set precedent for new rights including abortion. </li></ul>
2005 ISHRI Capital to Village Immersion <ul><li>This two week program consisted of lectures and meetings in Washington D.C. as well as building a house and performing other works of mercy in San Diego, CA and Tijuana, Mexico. </li></ul>
2006 Europe Summer Course <ul><li>For three weeks earlier this summer, seven students traveled to France, Switzerland and Austria to learn about foreign relations and human rights efforts in Europe. Highlights included participating as NGOs at the European Parliament, and the United Nations headquarters in Geneva and Vienna. </li></ul>
ISHRI upcoming events Medical Mission to Equator (1/07) NGO - Commission on Status of Women NYC (2/07) Mission to Honduras (3/07) JPII conference, EU parliament &UN Geneva (5/07) Washington, DC training & Summer solidarity with a developing nation (7/07)
ISHRI & SCSS future goals - Graduate studies in the New Evangelization & Catholic Social Thought - Place interns with Embassies, Foreign Service & in Missions - Use communications & law to advance human rights, development & evangelization