Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 11
No. 6
June, 2017
 
Focus on the UN
Promoting Abortion as a Health Right
The High-Level Working Group for Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents presented its pro-abortion report-Leading the Realization of Human Rights To Health and Through Health-during the June session of the Human Rights Council. Two leading entities at the United Nations- the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR)- had convened the Working Group as a "landmark initiative" to ensure that the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to "leave no one behind" is achieved. Yet, individual members of one entire population group-unborn children- will not only be left behind but will lose their lives by provisions the Working Group advances in its report.

The Working Group casts abortion as a service necessary for women, children and adolescents to "enjoy" for their "mental, sexual and reproductive health" in the section 'Building Momentum for human rights to health and through health' and presents gains in pro-life policies as a negative threat to human rights:

"The issues set out in this report are highly relevant for all countries in all regions of the world, not least because of current threats to earlier advances in respecting and protecting women's, children's and adolescents' rights, including their personal autonomy. The High-Level Working Group is convinced that committed leadership for collective action is urgently needed to safeguard the full exercise of women's, children's and adolescents' human rights, including their access to comprehensive information, their rights to autonomous decision making in keeping with their age-related abilities, and their enjoyment of services necessary for their mental, sexual and reproductive health, including safe abortion services."

The report reduces belief in the protection of the lives of unborn children to a 'sensitivity' and labels it 'discrimination': "Legal or statutory provisions that impede access to so-called 'sensitive' services, such as sexual and reproductive health services, including comprehensive sexuality education, family planning and safe abortion, must be addressed. Harmful gender, social and cultural norms that restrict access to sexual and reproductive health services are themselves forms of discrimination."

In Annex B, Human rights-related actions under the Global Strategy for Women's, Children's and Adolescents' Health, instructions to achieve an "Enabling environment" in the area of SDG targets 10.3, 16.2, 16.9, 16.10 and 17.18, includes:

"Repeal, rescind or amend laws and policies that create barriers or restrict access to health services (including sexual and reproductive health and rights services) and that discriminate, explicitly or in effect, against women, children or adolescents as such, or on grounds prohibited under human rights law. This includes repealing laws that criminalize specific sexual and reproductive conduct and decisions, such as abortion, same-sex intimacy, sex work and the delivery or receipt of sexual and reproductive health and rights information.

The Working Group was brought together by two entrenched abortion activists, Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights, former Deputy Executive Director of UNFPA and served as Executive Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International when in 2007 it adopted a pro-abortion position and Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General, World Health Organization. Bustreo wrote in the Huffington Post Women Need To Control Their Health To Control Their Futures­ about her participation in the "She Decides" conference in Brussels which sought to raise money for pro-abortion NGOs following President Trump's reissuing of the Mexico City Policy.

Members and advisors of the Group are mainly from pro-abortion donor countries, academia and organizations who are united in promoting what the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of Agenda 2030 could not due to a lack of global agreement-universal access to abortion as health care or as a human right.

Parliaments are among those targeted to advance access to abortion: "As the implementation of Agenda 2030, including the Global Strategy, moves forward, the High-Level Working Group urges active engagement by national governments, parliaments, and community and civil society leaders."

"What we need is more concrete and sustained political commitment and leadership."

PNCI notes that political commitment to protect the lives of children at all stages of development, while protecting the lives of women and girls from the violence of abortion, is strong around the world and is part of the reason why only 60 countries allow access to abortion on demand.

PNCI urges lawmakers who respect life at all stages to use extreme caution as their parliaments consider implementation of, and funding for, Agenda 2030 and the SDGs.

New Database to Advance Access to Abortion

The United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Population

Fund, United Nations Children's Fund, World Health Organization (WHO), World Bank

Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human

Reproduction (HRP) in collaboration with the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) launched the Global Abortion Policies Database which is designed to "help states identify and eliminate the barriers that women encounter in accessing safe abortion services. It is also intended to increase both the transparency of abortion laws and policies and to ensure accountability for the protection of women's health and their human rights."

The database will also "facilitate analyses of countries' abortion laws and policies when they are placed in the context of WHO guidelines and human rights norms and standards".

The overall goal of the database is to change laws that protect unborn children and their mothers from the violence of abortion. In a related article in the WHO Bulletin,Abortion laws, policies, health standards and guidelines,legal prohibitions on abortion included in the database are described as "policy barriers" and include laws that "limit provision of abortion care to obstetricians and gynaecologists working at high-level care facilities;conscientious objection by health-care providers; requirements for third-party authorization(s); unnecessary medical tests; mandatory counselling; and mandatory waiting periods."

The database includes individual country profiles on "selected sexual and reproductive health indicators, links to State-ratified human rights treaties, and links to UN Treaty Monitoring Body Concluding Observations and Special Procedure Reports that address abortion".

The inclusion of non-binding radical pro-abortion observations by members of treaty monitoring bodies directed at countries with pro-life laws and policies seeks to further pro-abortion legal arguments that re-interpret treaties in an attempt to advance abortion as a human right.

The article also traces the development of WHO's promotion of abortion including how in 2015 WHO came to view abortion as primary health care, "emerging scientific evidence led to new WHO recommendations, which emphasized that safe abortion services in early pregnancy are primary-care-level procedures and specified which cadres of health workers can provide this care."

The Director of WHO's Department of Reproductive Health and Research, Ian Askew, formerly with pro-abortion Population Council, called the database a "ground-breaking resource" on twitter.

Rapporteur Seeks to Overturn Pro-Life Laws
UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Agnes Callamard an embedded pro-abortion activist, issued her first report in which she condemns laws against abortion- Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on a gender-sensitive approach to arbitrary killings.

She claims that such laws violate a woman's right to life and repeats pro-abortion arguments stating: "Treaty bodies and special procedures mandate holders have consistently condemned countries that criminalize and restrict access to abortion, making direct links between the criminalization of abortion, maternal mortality and the right to life. Noting that such laws violate the right to life of pregnant women and other rights, the Human Rights Committee and the Committee against Torture, for example, have expressed concerns about restrictive abortion laws, including absolute bans on abortion, as violating the right to life and prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment."

Sovereign laws restricting abortion are not only viewed as torture by Callamard but she believes that States "should remove undue restrictions on access to safe and legal abortions that may threaten women's and girls' rights to life and health, and adopt clear regulations and guidelines on safe and legal abortion for health professionals providing abortion and post-abortion services."

When countries prohibit unfettered access to abortion, including restricting abortion except for a life of the mother exception, Callamard believes that such governments are guilty of "arbitrary deprivation of life" if a woman dies from an illegal abortion.

In news of the report, pro-abortion NGO Ipas states that Callamard "drew on input from Ipas" and shows that "violations of the right to life stem not only from intentional deprivation of life by a state or a non-state actor, but also from the deprivation of basic conditions that guarantee life, such as access to essential health care."

Callamard's mandate as Special Rapporteur was extended for another three years following acceptance of a resolution proposed by Sweden to the Human Rights Council.

Working Group Calls for "Resistance"
The UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice has joined the radical left chorus and called for "resistance" as it claims the "battle over women's rights intensifies".

The working group, part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, states: "The world is at a crossroads, with the very concept of gender equality being increasingly contested in some quarters. We feel it is time to reiterate the backlash against the progress which has been made in promoting and protecting women's human rights. The polarization in the battle for rights is being demonstrated increasingly, and regressive positions have become a serious threat to the human rights legal framework. The international community needs to keep moving forward on setting standards on gender equality to counter the alarming trends which are undermining human rights principles and jeopardizing the gains made in women's rights."

The group seeks to repeal all laws that "discriminate against women on traditional, cultural or religious grounds and laws that exclusively or disproportionately criminalize action or behaviour by women and girls" including laws prohibiting abortion.

The group claims that "we are witnessing efforts by fundamentalist groups to undermine the foundation on which the whole human rights system is based.  Some of these efforts are based on a misuse of culture, including religion and tradition, or on claims related to State sovereignty."

A recent successful effort at the Human Rights Council by countries seeking to protect the family appears to have triggered the group's statement which included, "Under the disguise of protecting the family, some States are taking initiatives aimed at diluting human rights. We obviously recognise that the family is the fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection, but we insist on the need to re-assert women's right to equality in all aspects of family life and recognise that diverse forms of families exist."

The members of the working group are "Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights Karima Bennoune; Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Ahmed Shaheed; Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity Vitit Muntarbhorn; and Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences Dubravka Simonović."

Pro-Life Actions
Holy See and U.S. Object to Abortion as Health Care

Both the United States and the Holy See, during separate meetings at the United Nations in Geneva, voiced objection to abortion as health care. Speaking for the Holy See, Permanent Observer Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič explained the Holy See's position following the ECOSOC Humanitarian Segment approval of the resolution entitled "Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations".

The Holy See insisted "that healthcare services must never be intended - or operate - against the life of the most defenseless or the unborn." Specifically, the Holy See objected to the inclusion of Minimal Initial Service Package (MISP) in section 68 under the title "Sexual and reproductive health". The Holy See explained:"The Minimal Initial Service Package (MISP) is a set of priority activities, provided by UNFPA, and includes 13 types of Reproductive Health Kits designed for women and girls of reproductive age, some of which entail abortion. Among them, "KIT 10" provides the well-known "vacuum extractor", which is the most common method to procure abortion, and which brings serious risks also to the mother's health. Our Delegation would like to insist that healthcare services must never be intended - or operate - against the life of the most defenseless or the unborn. The application of the right to life must never discriminate based on the various stages of life."

The Holy See's statement expressed concern for women and children in humanitarian emergencies contexts and for their needs but affirmed that the Holy See "cannot accept as an appropriate solution those services that provide and/or promote abortion."

In addition, the Holy See reiterated its reservations on terms and concepts commonly found and debated in documents during U.N. meetings stating, "The Holy See does not consider abortion, access to abortion, or access to abortifacients as a dimension of the terms 'sexual and reproductive health' and 'sexual and reproductive healthcare services'."

The Holy See also explained that with reference to the term "gender", "the Holy See understands the term to be grounded in biological sexual identity and difference."

The United States Mission to the United Nations in Geneva confirmed the words of pro-life U.S. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley that "there is a new sheriff in town" in a statement of position that demonstrated beyond any doubt that this "new sheriff" is wearing a shiny pro-life badge, to the dismay of pro-abortion governments and activists. 

The United States explained its pro-life objection following adoption by the Human Rights Council of a resolution by Canada on the elimination of violence against women,A/HRC/35/L.15: Accelerating efforts to eliminate violence against women: engaging men and boys in preventing and responding to violence against all women and girls declaring that "the U.S. 'must dissociate from the consensus' specifically on access to safe abortions."

The U.S. opposed section 9 (d) which included "safe abortion where such services are permitted by national law" in the list of "health care services" that are needed to ensure "the promotion and protection of the human rights of all women and their sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights".

The US explained that there is no international right to abortion and that the US does not support access to abortion in reproductive health assistance, affirming President Trump's Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance, the expansion of the Mexico City Policy. 

Read more PNCI coverage: U.S. Takes Giant Pro-Life Step at the UN

Latin America: Legislators Affirm Life, Family and Faith
Legislators from eighteen countries in Latin America gathered in Mexico ahead of the General Assembly meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) for the first meeting of the Hemispheric Congress of Parliamentarians to express their support for the American Declaration on the Independence and self-determination of peoples in matters related to life, family and religious freedom, supported by 600 parliamentarians in Latin America.In so doing, they expressed concern for sovereignty in light of aggressive activist actions by the Inter American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter American Court of Human Rights.

The Declaration included a reminder "that the American Convention in its article 4 enshrines the right to life "from the moment of conception"; Article 17 states that "the family is the natural and fundamental element of society and must be protected by society and the State" and recognizes "the right of man and woman to marry and to establish a family;" and article 12 states that "everyone has the right to freedom of conscience and religion."

The tone of the Declaration demonstrates the growing irritation and impatience by lawmakers worldwide that treaties and rights are being re-interpreted by unelected members of international and regional bodies with no regard for national law or established international law, in this case by entities at the OAS. Legislators admonished: "Whereas, in accordance with article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, the OAS, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights are obliged to interpret the American Convention as well as any other treaty of the Inter-American System "in good faith in accordance with the current sense to be attributed to the terms of the Treaty in the context of these and taking into account its object and purpose".

The lawmakers declared their "dismay at the aggressive and continuing efforts of the OAS, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to advance and impose on Member States certain ideological policies and perspectives that undermine the right to life, family and freedom of expression, association and religious."

Pro-Abortion Actions
IPPF and MSI Sign Abortion Agreement

International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and Marie Stopes International (MSI) announced during a meeting with donors that they have signed an Organizational Agreement to work together in order to respond to the "challenging environment in delivering sexual and reproductive health services and rights", including abortion.

The two international abortion giants, which refuse to divest from abortion in order to qualify for U.S. funding under the Mexico City Policy, stated that they will "look at a joint effort to develop national plans in 12 countries".

Tewodros Melesse, IPPF Director General, said, "It is evident that the global environment for sexual and reproductive health and rights services has changed. This means that we have to find new ways to improve how we drive services at country level. Simon Cooke, CEO of Marie Stopes International, said: "We look forward to working in greater collaboration with IPPF on specific projects, to ensure that many more women and girls in developing countries are able to receive the contraception and safe abortion services that will help them take control of their futures.

The agreement covers three areas of cooperation: operations, advocacy and data. 

Legislative News
Dominican Republic: Senate Votes against Legalizing Abortion
The Dominican Republic's Senate rejected a bill to amend the Penal Code and permit abortion in cases of rape, incest and fetal handicap. This is the latest move in the ongoing battle to legalize abortion in the country. The proposed changes are supported by President Danilo Medina, who vetoed a Penal Code Congress passed last December that would have banned all abortions except when the mother's life is at risk. The legislation is now under consideration in the Congress' lower chamber. 

    

Executive News
UK Department of Health to Pay for Abortions of Northern Ireland’s Babies
Reversing past decisions to not undermine the ability of the Northern Ireland Assembly to determine national policy on abortion, the UK Department of Health announced that it would cover the cost of aborting the children of women from Northern Ireland who travel to England for the act.

The surprise decision resulted after an opposition amendment to force the policy was introduced by a coalition of MPs led by Labour MP Stella Creasy and was on its way for a vote supported by more than 100 MPs. DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr was reported to have said: “I think it is important the house recognises this is not a matter for Belfast. This is a matter for NHS England.”

The measure was thought to have gained enough support that it would pass and be seen as a vote of no confidence in the new government of Prime Minister Theresa May. Following the loss of a conservative majority in the recent election, May had reached out to the pro-life Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland to form a government resulting in pro-abortion fears that the DUP might attempt new limitations on access to abortion. 

In reaction to the decision, pro-life leader John Smeaton of SPUC said: “This is a black day for unborn children, for mothers and for democracy. It’s a great day for the abortion industry – which cares nothing about unborn children and for the welfare of women...This is a betrayal on the grandest scale imaginable.  Innocent unborn babies are being treated treacherously by this Government which has chosen death over life in an effort to save their skin...It is nothing less than lethal meddling in affairs which do not concern it designed to thwart the political will of the people of Northern Ireland at the expense of the unborn who don’t seem to matter at all to our political masters." 

Ireland: New Taoiseach Calls for Abortion Referendum
Ireland's new Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar has announced plans for a referendum on Ireland's abortion laws next year. He said health minister Simon Harris will be in charge of bringing forth legislation on the Eighth Amendment in 2018. The Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution protects the right to life of the unborn child from the moment of conception. Pressure to amend the Irish constitution has been relentless. For the second time in a year, the UN has criticized Ireland's pro-life laws, calling them inhumane and degrading to women, and called on the country to legalize abortion. Taoiseach has said he supports a change to the law: "I don't agree with abortion on request but I also am very sure the Eighth Amendment is too restrictive...I think there are circumstances in which we should allow it that does means replacing the Eighth Amendment with something else."
Canada: Abortion "at the Core" of Foreign Assistance
According to Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, abortion is "at the core" of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's foreign policy. The minister said that Canadian values include feminism and women's rights. "That includes sexual reproductive rights. That includes the right to safe and accessible abortions," said Freeland. In a speech to parliament, Freeland announced the focus for Canada's foreign policy as the "first feminist international assistance policy" in the hopes of making the country "at the forefront of this global effort".
Judicial News
UK Supreme Court: No Free Abortions for Northern Ireland Women
The UK's Supreme Court has ruled against women from Northern Ireland seeking free abortions in England. The UK Department of Health reports that last year over 700 women traveled from NI to England for abortions. The case was filed by a woman and her mother who traveled to England in 2012 for an abortion. The ruling said it was not for the court to rule on the differences in abortion law in Northern Ireland and England and that the health secretary was in the right to defer to Northern Ireland's law and restrict access to NHS abortions. The ruling stated that the secretary was "entitled to afford respect to the democratic decision of the people of Northern Ireland not to fund abortion services". The mother and daughter now plan to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
EU: Court Rejects Appeal to Continue Life Support for Critically Ill Baby
The European Court of Human Rights has rejected an appeal to allow a critically ill baby to receive experimental treatment, ruling the hospital may withdraw life support. The 10 month old baby, Charlie Gard, suffers from a rare genetic condition called mitochondrial depletion syndrome. His parents want to take him to the United States for experimental treatment and have raised £1.3m for medical expenses. However, the hospital challenged them in court, arguing against maintaining life support because of Charlie's poor quality of life. His parents argued they only want to give their son a chance at life. The European Court upheld the UK Supreme Court's ruling against moving Charlie or continuing life support.

 

The Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life issued a statement, acknowledging the parents' pain and the complex nature of the situation. It states, "we should never act with the deliberate intention to end a human life, including the removal of nutrition and hydration, so that death might be achieved," but that "we do, sometimes, however, have to recognize the limitations of what can be done, while always acting humanely in the service of the sick person until the time of natural death occurs."

 
Issues
Denial of Burial for Unborn Babies before 24 Weeks
In Hong Kong, a legal battle ensued when a couple fought a public hospital to gain permission to obtain the remains of their son, miscarried in the 15th week of pregnancy, for burial. Preborn babies who die before 24 weeks are not routinely released to their families for burial and are considered to be "clinical waste" according to the legal requirements issued by the Environmental Protection Department.

The hospital had agreed to release the body to his parents but without the documentation required for a proper burial and recommended that the parents take their son's body to a pet crematorium. The parents' lawyer objected to the fact that the hospital was following directions from the abortion law which stipulates that 24 weeks is the gestational age above which the baby is considered stillborn and allowed to be released for burial. (Hong Kong prohibits abortion after 24 weeks except for a life of the mother exception.) It is reported that 18 similar appeals to give babies who die before 24 weeks gestation a burial have been made this past year; 14 were approved.

The local Catholic Diocese intervened to assist the couple and agreed to set aside space - called "Angel Garden"-in its private cemetery for babies from Catholic families who die before 24 weeks of pregnancy.

The baby's father explained that the solution offered by the Roman Catholic Church is something that the Islamic cemetery has been doing for decades but he wants all families in Hong Kong, regardless of religion or background, to have the option of taking their deceased children for burial or cremation.

"I don't think it should be available only to people of certain religions or certain backgrounds," he said. "I want to see the government change this policy, or for lawmakers to change the law."


 
 
Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues
Advancing global respect and dignity for life through law and policy.

Babies or Biohazard Waste

 
Priests for Life has been exposing the practices surrounding late-term abortion in the state of New Mexico at the Southwestern Women's Options clinic. The latest phone recording of clinic personnel reveal the de-humanizing tactics employed to describe the deceased remains of an unborn child. When an abortion of an unborn child with a disability was presented, the mother was assured that staff from the local funeral home will come and collect the remains of the "baby" for cremation.

Personnel used different terminology when a healthy unborn child was to be aborted. When another woman, 25 weeks pregnant with a healthy child, inquired about what will happen to her baby after the abortion, she is told that the remains are considered biohazard waste and that the whole baby will be incinerated.

"To think that Southwestern Women's Options is pitching cremation to women seeking late-term abortions in order to somehow buffer killing disabled babies while the other babies are incinerated as biohazard waste is schizophrenic," said Tara Shaver of Abortion Free New Mexico. "Cremation, by definition, refers to what is done to a dead person's body. It's imperative that we, our leaders and every sane person speak out and act on behalf of these human babies who are being brutally killed each day in New Mexico."

"Anyone with a conscience will be horrified by these recordings," said Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life. "They speak of fingerprints, toe-prints, baby clothes, photos, and funeral homes. These are things associated with human beings, and children who -- once they're born -- we all agree should be protected. What is revealed here is an ongoing prejudice, discrimination, and oppression towards the children in the womb, and it must end."

Listen to the recording here.