I made an intervention at a special session to mark the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Due to time constraints and the way the session was organised, I was only able to make a few points, but I submitted the whole intervention to the secretariat and have reproduced it below.
Discrimination against the child before birth
The current application of the Convention on the Rights of the Child as applying only from birth is discriminatory. This is unfair, unjust and contrary to the human rights of the child before birth.
Discrimination against the unborn child represents the gravest possible level of discrimination against children. The World Health Organisation estimates that there are 42 million abortions annually and it is clear by any standards that this is by far the single most significant issue of violence against children.
The Convention recognises human rights in the entire pre natal period and the fact that these rights are currently being ignored is also the single biggest challenge facing the children's rights movement and one that requires urgent attention.
We set out hereunder an outline of the basis on which the above statements are based
The preamble to the convention says that "the child by reason of his physical and mental immaturity needs special safeguards and care before as well as after birth"
The convention applies the generic name “The Child” inclusively, to the condition before birth as well as to the condition of born children.
Article 1. of the Convention continues the inclusive approach by defining the word child as “every human being under the age of 18”. On the basis that the generic name child is given to the condition before as well as after birth this therefore is also an inclusive statement and refers to the entire pre-natal period as well as to born children.
Article 2.1 the non discrimination clause clearly sets out that birth or other status should not be used grounds for discrimination. Termination of the life of a child before birth based on a determination of the child being disabled, being a girl, being a second child, being unwanted or simply being inconvenient is the very essence of discrimination
Article 6. Proclaims, “every child has the inherent right to life”. Again on the basis that the generic name child is given to the condition before as well as after birth this therefore is also an inclusive statement and refers to the entire pre-natal period as well as to born children. Since every child then has the inherent right to life the taking of that life, apart from other labels that could be attached to it, is contrary to article 6 of the convention
Article 24 the Right to health is the child’s right to health
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services.
2. States Parties shall pursue full implementation of this right and, in particular, shall take appropriate measures:
(d) To ensure appropriate pre-natal and post-natal health care for mothers;
Clearly while pre and post-natal care is to be delivered to mothers it is in this convention for the benefit of the rights holder, the child.
We remind the committee that every child counts, every life is a precious and unique gift, never to be repeated. Every child, born or before birth, has an equal right to life with all other human beings, including his or her mother. Every pregnant woman knows that she carries a new human baby child. Medical science has also shown beyond any doubt that from the moment of fertilization each newly formed human embryonic child has a unique, separate and distinct identity.
Abortion is not, and can never be a human right. Abortion ignores the right to life of innocent and vulnerable babies. Extreme ideologies have been adopted by many governments and powerful NGO’s, ideologies which are hostile to the life of the child before birth. These ideologies must be confronted and shown to be false and in fact detrimental to the future population of all nations and thereby their economic viability..
We stand at an important juncture in the history of the development and implementation of the Rights of the Child and we appeal to the Committee to urgently reassess current practice and to courageously face this most difficult issue.
Finally we appeal to the Committee implement the Convention in the way it was intended.