Monday, September 20, 2010

New UN report represents yet another attack on pro-life laws

A new report on, "discrimination against women, in law and practice”, has been issued by the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Secretary General. The new report among other things seeks to undermine a doctors right to conscientious objection to abortion and calls for the setting up of yet another special procedure to monitor discrimination against women, despite the existence of the pro-abortion Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (the CEDAW Committee) and despite the creation of the new super-agency for women’s issues known as “UN Women”

The new report cites pro-abortion recommendations made by both the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), which seeks to “address the refusal of physicians to perform legal abortions.” and the Committee on Torture (CAT) which seeks to address “violations of women’s reproductive rights,” and calls for elimination of legislation that “severely restricts access to voluntary abortion”. These recommendations in each case go beyond the mandates of both committees as no UN Treaty or Convention calls for a right to abortion and despite the fact conscientious objection is actually a protected right in several Conventions

The report recommends the creation of a new office or “Thematic Procedure” to focus on laws and practices that discriminate against women. This means the appointment of a special rapporteur who in addition to following up on genuine rights contained in the human rights Treaties and covenants would also follow up on treaty body recommendations such as the pro-abortion recommendations made by the CESCR and CAT as set out above.

The bottom line is that pro-life laws would be targeted by such a procedure in an official manner. The Centre for Reproductive Rights CRR already works to create a global right to abortion by using UN treaty body recommendations to underpin their arguments but the creation of this new mandate should it be accepted would inevitably place additional pressure on pro-life Governments.