Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Controversial UN Health report debated in General Assembly

Special Rapporteur on Health Anand Grover On Monday Oct 24th presented his controversial report, demanding removal of all restrictions on the availability of abortion, to the 3rd Committee of the General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York.
We blogged recently on this Report pointing out that it links the availability of abortion on demand with the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
Grover in presenting his report told the meeting,
“Criminal laws penalizing and restricting abortion provide examples of State interference with women’s right to health. Such laws restrict women’s control over their bodies and require that they continue unplanned pregnancies and give birth when it is not their choice to do so. Criminal restrictions undermine women’s dignity and infringe their autonomy. At the same time, criminalization generates and perpetuates the stigmatization and marginalization of women. As such these laws should be eliminated”
Grover also claimed that decriminalization saves lives and that his report details 14 recommendations towards applying a right to health approach and includes the following
· Decriminalize the provision of information relating to sexual and reproductive health, including evidence-based sexual and reproductive education

· Decriminalize the supply and use of all forms of contraception and voluntary sterilization for fertility control and remove requirements for spousal and/or parental consent

· Suspend or abolish the application of criminal laws to various forms of conduct during pregnancy, such as conduct related to treatment of the fetus, most notably early miscarriage, alcohol and drug consumption and HIV transmission

· Decriminalize abortion, including related laws, such as those concerning abetment of abortion; and 
· Ensure that accurate, evidence-based information concerning abortion and its legal availability is publicly available and that health-care providers are fully aware of the law related to abortion and its exceptions
The report was supported by the US and the EU together with a number of individual states such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and South Africa.

The report was opposed by, the Holy See, Egypt, Chile Swaziland and Honduras

The Holy See delegate Fr Bené told the meeting;
“No right to abortion exists under international law, either by way of treaty obligation or under customary international law and no international treaty can accurately be cited as establishing or recognizing a right to abortion. It is instructive to point out in this regard that nowhere in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is reference made to abortion.
Confronted with the misstatement of the Special Rapporteur, namely, that legal restrictions of abortions constitute a violation of the right to health, my delegation points out that the very opposite is in fact the case: abortion is itself a violation of the right to health both of the unborn child and of the mother. Abortion kills the unborn child. It also inflicts physical, spiritual and sometimes psychological harm on the mother and can bring about her death. As a matter of scientific fact, a new human life begins at conception. For this reason, laws must be enacted and upheld that criminalize all induced abortions.”
Fr Bené also told the meeting,
"States are called upon always to respect the primary right and duty of parents in the upbringing and development of their children. It follows logically that parental consent is required for all matters related to the health and wellbeing of their children. The proposal of the Special Rapporteur to circumvent spousal and/or parental consent for the implementation of contraceptive and sterilizing techniques stands in stark contravention of the very nature of marriage and parenthood."
Despite the strongly pro-abortion and controversial nature of this report none of the European pro-life governments, Ireland, Poland and Malta, either demurred from the EU statement welcoming the report or made any intervention during the debate.