Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 12
No. 6
July, 2018
 
International Pressure for Abortion
Soros Funds International Abortion Conference
The third Abortion & Reproductive Justice: The Unfinished Revolution conference took place in South Africa through funding from George Soros' Open Society to pursue the overturning of laws against abortion around the world claiming that abortion is "reproductive justice" and the quest to obtain universal access to abortion equals a "revolution". Open Society operates thanks to George Sorosstating that it has "supported individuals and organizations across the globe fighting for freedom of expression, accountable government, and societies that promote justice and equality" but fails not only to respect the right to life of children in the womb and the injustice of abortion but fails to respect national sovereignty as it funds efforts to reverse laws against the violence of abortion.
 
The conference took place at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa with official support from the government. The Director of Population and Development at South African Department of Social Development, Jacques van Zuydam, opened the conference,
 
"The government that I represent was elected to continue to fight this struggle, as well as to advocate globally for the full realisation of all women's rights, including the right to sexual and reproductive health and justice. We are committed to do our best to contribute to finishing the unfinished revolution," he said.
 
Professor Catriona Macleod, SARCHI Chair: Critical Studies in Sexualities and Reproduction at Rhodes University cited the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy of President Trump as an impediment to the advance of abortion globally. She explained that despite the vote to remove pro-life protections in Ireland "...there is either progress reversal, as seen by the US introducing this gag rule, or no progress at all, as in the case of Northern Ireland electing to keep its restrictive abortion laws. We are clearly still far from winning the fight for reproductive justice."
 
The conference was attended by international pro-abortion organizations and 285 delegates from 26 countries, primarily Africa. The reversal of laws throughout Africa protecting unborn children from the violence of abortion was a main target of the meeting and is a key focus of the international pro-abortion lobby.
 
The event included participants from African countries of Burkina Faso, Benin, Uganda, Zambia, Nigeria, Malawi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Madagascar and South Africa. Other attendees were from Haiti, Jamaica, Venezuela, Argentina, Philippines, India, New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, Netherlands, and the United States of America.
 
According to the program, participants gathered in small groups to discuss strategies to change laws in Africa during Advocacy for Safe Abortion in Policy and Practice in Africa including, "Decriminalization of abortion: whether, to what extent, and how" and "How medical abortion pills are changing everything (or should be)".
 
The overview of the third topic "Understanding the basis of the opposition to abortion today and how to address it" took exception with the idea that attempts to impose the western concept of abortion on Africa is against traditional African values and beliefs. It stated: "The anti-abortion movement is highly influential in many countries, often seeking to assert religious control over state policy, and working from local level to the United Nations. In some cases, they claim abortion is "foreign" and "against traditional culture" when in fact the aim is to keep women pregnant and maintain patriarchal control over women's lives."
 
This topic revealed pro-abortion strategies currently underway including by the African Commission for Human and Peoples' Rights to use the Maputo Protocol to bring about legalization of abortion in line with the treaty. Success to liberalize abortion in Ethiopia and Mozambique was discussed and compared to "stalled" efforts in Sierra Leone and Malawi and efforts in Kenya that was claimed to have not resulted in greater access to abortion or "have gone backwards".
 
Concern about the weakness of public health systems were discussed including "the lack of training for providing abortion care at primary level, and the lack of involvement in fostering change on the part of many health professionals and policymakers".
 
It was lamented that abortion-inducing drugs-especially misoprostol alone-are not being used in Africa as in other regions of the world.
 
Currently, only four countries in Africa allow broad access to abortion: South Africa, Cape Verde, Tunisia, and Zambia while 10 of the 54 African countries do not allow abortion for any reason.
 
PNCI warns pro-life advocates in Africa. Pro-abortion activists are preparing to bring their abortion revolution to your countries to overturn laws against the violence of abortion with help from George Soros and his Open Society. Open Society, in contrast to its name, promotes a society that is closed to the protection of the youngest and most vulnerable children from the violence of abortion.
 
Read more here.

 

Amnesty International: No Right to Life for the Unborn
Amnesty International (AI) officially confirmed what its actions and statements have long demonstrated-support for abortion on demand. The decision was made during a global meeting of AI delegates from around the world in Warsaw; the official announcement stated,
 
"Representatives voted to adopt an updated position on abortion that calls on States not just to decriminalise abortion, but to guarantee access to safe and legal abortion in a broad way that fully respects the rights of all women, girls and people who can get pregnant."
 
The last official AI statement on abortion was in 2007 when AI shocked many supporters by announcing its support for abortion calling for "decriminalisation of abortion, and access to abortion in a limited set of cases", specifically for "any woman who becomes pregnant as the result of rape, sexual assault, or incest, or where a pregnancy poses a risk to a woman's life or a grave risk to her health."
 
At the time, under the direction of AI Secretary GeneralIrene Khan-now Director-General of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO)-and Deputy AI Secretary General Kate Gilmore-current UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights- the organization's decision alarmed many supporters including Cardinal Renato Martino, then head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace who called on Catholics to cease contributing to AI stating that "AI has betrayed its mission."
Gilmore countered Cardinal Martino saying that the "Catholic Church, through a misrepresented account of our position on selective aspects of abortion, is placing in peril work on human rights" and stated that "Amnesty International's position is not for abortion as a right but for women's human rights to be free of fear, threat and coercion as they manage all consequences of rape and other grave human rights violations."
 
Today, Amnesty and Gilmore no longer try to qualify their support for abortion but unabashedly proclaim that abortion is a human right and refuse to address the wrongs of abortion. The recent passage of legislation to legalize abortion in the Chamber of Deputies in Argentina was celebrated by AI in a press release with the headline "Argentina: First step to decriminalize abortion is historic for human rights". It included, "Today, Argentina has committed to make significant progress in defending the human rights of women and girls, and is also sending an important message to the rest of the continent".
 
Amnesty is also one of the most active pro-abortion organizations in Ireland supporting repeal of Ireland's 8th amendment to the constitution and calling for legislation to legalize abortion on demand.

 

African Treaty with Reproductive Right to Abortion Turns 15
July 11 marked the 15th anniversary of adoption of the African regional treaty Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, commonly known as the Maputo Protocol, the only treaty in the world that includes a reproductive right to access abortion under specific circumstances. The African regional treaty came into force on November 25, 2005.
 
The Maputo Protocol was written with the help of Equality Now which stated after its adoption, "For the first time in international law, it explicitly sets forth the reproductive right of women to medical abortion when pregnancy results from rape or incest or when the continuation of pregnancy endangers the health or life of the mother."
 
Article 14 states that State Parties shall take all appropriate measures to: "protect the reproductive rights of women by authorizing medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the foetus".
 
Only four countries in Africa allow broad access to abortion: South Africa, Cape Verde, Tunisia, and Zambia while 10 of the 54 African countries do not allow abortion for any reason. 39 African countries have now ratified the treaty with a number issuing reservations on the abortion language including Kenya and Uganda.
 
Activists continue to push the abortion agenda through Maputo including the African Commission for Human and Peoples' Rights which oversees implementation of the Protocol. Its General Comment on the abortion article calls for the rescinding of laws against abortion: "State parties should provide a legal and social environment that is conducive to the exercise by women of their sexual and reproductive rights. This involves revisiting, if necessary, restrictive laws, policies and administrative procedures relating to family planning/ contraception and safe abortion in the cases provided for in the Protocol, as well as integrating the provisions of the said legal instrument into domestic law."
 
The controversial abortion language conflicts with many African constitutions and national laws against abortion and mars the treaty's goal to advance women's political participation and political and social equality. Countries in Africa continue to resist the pressure to legalize the destruction of children in the womb despite the Maputo Protocol. African culture and religious beliefs value the lives of all children, born and unborn.
Defending Life
US: Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Crisis Pregnancy Centers
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that crisis pregnancy centers do not have to inform pregnant clients about abortion. The case strikes down a California law- the Reproductive FACT Act- that would require pro-life centers to post they were an unlicensed medical facility if they refused to provide abortion counseling and services. The Court ruled 5-4 that the requirement violates the centers' personnel's First Amendment rights. In the majority ruling, Justice Clarence Thomas stated, "Requiring petitioners to inform women how they can obtain state-subsidized abortions, at the same time petitioners try to dissuade women from choosing that option ... plainly alters the content of petitioners' speech." There are an estimated 2,700 crisis pregnancy centers in the U.S. that provide pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and pro-life counseling to pregnant women.
 
Pro-life leaders hailed the decision. Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, said, "It's a great day for free speech, religious liberty and the pro-life movement. Perhaps laws like the one at the center of this case will fall out of favor in the pro-abortion camp because of the Court's stance today."
 
"We have been confident all along that we would have victory in this case. Forcing pregnancy centers - that exist to prevent abortions - to advertise for abortion is like requiring Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to advertise for the liquor store down the street. It's an insidious effort to make sure choice is eliminated and abortion is the only option. The Supreme Court acted in the best interest of all Americans today."

 

US President Trump: I'm Dedicated to Protecting the Unborn
In a letter to the National Right to Life Committee's (NRLC) convention last month, President Donald Trump expressed his dedication to protecting the unborn. "We all have a duty to defend the most basic and fundamental human right - the right to life. As President I am dedicated to protecting the lives of every American including the unborn," wrote Trump. The president's pro-life record since taking office includes reinstating and expanding the Mexico City policy to ensure federal funds are not used to promote or perform abortions overseas and changing Title X regulations so federal funds do not go to abortion providers. President Trump thanked NRLC for its dedication to life and expressed his appreciation for its tireless work. "Each day you help spread compassion and promote the dignity of every human person. I am truly grateful for your efforts and I remain committed to continue working with you as we cultivate a world that values and regards every human life,"  he stated.

 

Focus on the UN
UN Working Group Attacks Pro-Life Values
The Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and in Practice, established by the Human Rights Council in 2011, issued its latest report and attacks what it labels an "alliance of conservative political ideologies and religious fundamentalisms," that it charges is responsible for "unprecedented pushback" and "retrogressions" in the area of women's rights "often in the name of culture, religion and traditions, and threaten the hard-fought progress in achieving women's equality."
 
The report is critical of pro-life efforts against abortion and states, "It is in this context of rising fundamentalisms and backlashes against women's rights that the current discourse on women's sexual and reproductive rights is taking place at the international level. Too many women are being deprived of their sexual and reproductive health and rights."
 
"The right of a woman or girl to make autonomous decisions about her own body and reproductive functions is at the very core of her fundamental right to equality and privacy, involving intimate matters of physical and psychological integrity, and is a precondition for the enjoyment of other rights."
 
The Working Group (WG), composed of unelected and non-paid individuals, further asserts its opinion that the right to life begins at birth and portrays it as accepted fact not the fiction that it is:
 
"In the current discourse, the need to put women's human rights at the centre of policy considerations regarding termination of their pregnancy is being obfuscated by the rhetoric and political power behind the argument that there is a symmetrical balance between the rights of two entities: the woman and the fetus. However, there is no such contestation in international human rights law. It was well established in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and upheld in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that the human rights accorded under international human rights law are accorded to those who have been born."
 
The WG calls on UN Member States to: "Ensure respect for women's rights to make decisions about their own bodies and to receive comprehensive sexuality education so they can enjoy their right to sexual and reproductive health, including safe, legal and affordable access to contraception and termination of pregnancy."
 
The WG attacks culture, religion, and sovereignty and their use during negotiations at the UN
"International human rights bodies and United Nations entities need to guard against the current backlash in order to ensure that the human rights legal framework is not undermined. The human rights community should make every effort to block any position in international human rights spaces that endorses patriarchal and discriminatory norms, misusing culture, religion and State sovereignty as fallacious justifications. Women's human rights are fundamental rights that cannot be subordinated to cultural, religious or political considerations."
 
In its conclusions, the WG announced that it would strengthen "cooperation and alliances with international and regional human rights bodies, working more closely with regional and grass-roots organizations and continuing its efforts to improve its outreach to all stakeholders."
 
Read more here.

 

Legislative News
Ireland: Sinn Féin- No Conscience Vote on Abortion

The Irish political party Sinn Féin decided at its party meeting to give complete support to the legalization of abortion as detailed in the government’s Updated General Scheme of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill) 2018 Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that the party would now "move forward together, united in our determination to see the necessary legislation passed without delay". She also called for abortion to be legalized in Northern Ireland claiming, "…there is nothing to fear in that change, and let me be say this loud and clear - the North is next".

On a separate vote, the party opposed members’ right of conscience on the abortion law requiring that all follow the decision of the party’s leadership which supports legalizing abortion on demand. Pro-life Sinn Féin member Carol Nolan left the party and explained her decision to quit saying: "I feel that as a pro-life republican woman that I no longer have a place in this party, which doesn't recognise or show genuine respect for the pro-life views of members.

"It was disappointing that at the ard fheis ... the party's delegates voted against the motion to allow members to have a conscience vote on the issue of abortion."

Ms Nolan also said it was "unethical" to force TDs who oppose to abortion to vote against their conscience and that legislators are responsible for the laws they enact. "If a TD votes for abortion they are responsible for all abortions that happen in this State. I cannot and will not support abortion and for that reason I have made a decision to leave Sinn Fein," she said.

Isle of Man: Legislative Council Approves Abortion on Demand

The Isle of Man’s Legislative Council has approved a bill to increase access to abortion. The Abortion Reform Bill will permit abortion on demand for the first 14 weeks, in certain circumstances up to 24 weeks. Current law allows abortion up to 24 weeks in cases of risks to the health or life of the mother or disability of the child. Opposition against the bill was led by Bishop of Sodor and Mann Peter Eagles, who proposed numerous amendments to the bill. Bishop Eagles’ proposals failed to pass, and he lamented the bill would lead to “moral slippage”.

An amendment was later added to the bill by MLS Kerry Sharpe to ensure remains of abortion are treated with dignity. Her amendment directs the Department of Health and Social Care to create guidelines for the “appropriate disposal of a foetus”. Disposal methods vary across the United Kingdom, many incinerating remains of early abortions, but in late term abortions parents can arrange a burial or cremation. “I believe we must confront reality and ensure that foetal tissue is always treated with dignity and is always disposed of in a manner which is commensurate with the fact that it once held the potential for an independent life,” said Mrs. Sharpe. The bill now awaits consideration by the House of Keys this fall.

 

Malta: Parliament Amends Embryo Protection Act

Malta’s parliament voted to allow changes to its Embryo Protection Act, extending the practice of the creation of embryos through IVF and permitting the freezing of those embryos indefinitely. Opposition members and pro-life groups strongly opposed the amendments and argued they violated the constitutional right to life and respect for life at all stages. Health Minister Chris Fearne lauded the bill for making IVF more accessible to single parents and same-sex couples. The bill, which passed by a vote of 34-27, now goes to the President to become law.


 

 

Executive News
Irish Prime Minister: Catholic Hospitals Have to Perform Abortions
The Irish government published the Updated General Scheme of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill) 2018 with final determination by the Dáil and Seanad, legislative chambers. Abortion on demand for the first trimester will be allowed as well as late term abortion "when a mother's life or health is at risk, and in the cases of fatal foetal abnormalities." The broad definition of health, as in the US, can result in abortion on demand throughout pregnancy.
 
In explanation of the Bill, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced that the new law will require that all hospitals, including Catholic ones, be forced to perform abortions. "It will not, however, be possible for publicly-funded hospitals, no matter who their patron or owner is, to opt out of providing these necessary services which will be legal in this state once this legislation is passed by the Dáil and Seanad (senate)," Varadkar told the BBC.
 
The law will require that any health professional who objects to assisting or performing an abortion must "make such arrangements for the transfer of care of the pregnant woman concerned as may be necessary to enable the woman to avail of the termination of pregnancy concerned."
 
The draft Bill will go to the Oireachtas for deliberation after the summer recess.

 

Judicial News
UK: High Court Bans Prayer Outside Abortion Clinics
The UK's High Court has ruled to ban prayer and peaceful protest outside abortion clinics. The Court upheld Ealing Council's Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which prohibits any signs of prayer, distribution of information or any form of expressing an opinion outside an abortion clinic. Alina Dulgheriu, who challenged the order, was personally helped by a pro-life vigil and is seeking options for an appeal. "I am discussing every option available to me to be able to challenge this decision, which for the sake of vulnerable women and the future of our fundamental freedoms, should not be able to stand," said Dulgheriu.
 
Despite the strict restrictions, pro-life groups such as the Be Here For Me campaign, continue to work to try to provide women with life-saving information. "This decision is a major blow for free speech and human rights in this country. But the struggle for human rights has never been easy. And while there are women who feel they have no choice but an abortion they don't want, we will do their best to reach them," said Be Here For Me spokeswoman Elizabeth Howard.
Ireland: Court Awards Mother for "Wrongful Birth" of Son

In the first case of its kind, an Irish mother was awarded $2.1 million for the "wrongful birth" of her son. The mother, who suffers from a rare genetic condition, had sought genetic testing while pregnant. The justices ruled that since the genetic counselor had told the mother the tests were normal, she missed the ability to travel to the UK and abort her baby. The award given is for the next four years, after which "the case will come back before the court to assess the child's future care needs," according to Mr. Justice Kevin Cross.

India: Supreme Court Denies Woman Abortion

India's Supreme Court has denied a woman's request for abortion. The woman seeking an abortion, "Sarita", was over 25 weeks gestation and sought an abortion on the grounds of marital discord. Under Indian law, abortions over 20 weeks are only permitted if there is a risk to the mother's life or serious abnormalities in the child. During the proceeding, justices suggested the unborn child should have had a lawyer rather than the mother. "You should make the mother hear her child's heartbeat," Justice Kurian Joseph told Sarita's advocate. The high court cited the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act and ruled that Sarita's reasons didn't quality for an abortion.


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

In this Issue

 
International pressure for abortion
Soros Funds International Abortion Conference
Amnesty International: No Right to Life for the Unborn
African Treaty with Reproductive Right to Abortion Turns 15
 
Defending Life
Supreme Court Sides with Pregnancy Centers
US President Trump: I'm Dedicated to Protecting the Unborn
 
Focus on the UN
UN Working Group Attacks Pro-Life Values
 
Legislative News
Ireland: Sinn Féin- No Conscience Vote on Abortion
Isle of Man: Legislative Council Approves Abortion on Demand
Malta: Parliament Amends Embryo Protection Act
 
Executive News
Irish Prime Minister: Catholic Hospitals Have to Perform Abortions
 
Judicial News
UK: High Court Bans Prayer Outside Abortion Clinics
Ireland: Court Awards Mother for "Wrongful Birth" of Son
India: Supreme Court Denies Woman Abortion