Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 11
No. 11
December, 2017
 
Featured News
Congress and UN Hear from Victim of Forced Abortion in North Korea
A personal account of brutal forced abortion imposed by North Korea was voiced at a hearing, Protecting North Korean Refugees, held by Rep. Chris Smith in the US Congress and at a UN panel discussion "North Korea Human Rights: The Terrifying Experiences of Forcibly Repatriated North Korean Women".
 
Ambassador Nikki Haley, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations opened the UN discussion referencing the 2014 report by the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea stating that it "described a regime so dedicated to murder, torture, deliberate starvation, enslavement, rape and forced abortion that it 'does not have any parallel in the contemporary world'."
 
Rep. Chris Smith explained at the onset of the congressional hearing, "North Korean asylum seekers are at imminent risk of repatriation, torture, sexual violence, forced abortions, hard labor and even execution" and also referenced the same report stating, "As many as 90 percent of North Korean women refugees in China fall prey to traffickers who sell the refugees into sexual slavery or forced marriages".
 
Giving voice to North Korean asylum seeking women who have been and continue to be forcibly aborted upon their forced return to North Korea, Hyeona Ji detailed the brutality she endured after escaping to China three times and being sent back to North Korea. She describes embarking on her third escape "knowing I had to tell the world about North Korea's human rights realities". Upon her third return to North Korea she was three months pregnant and "was forced an abortion without any medication at the local police station in North Korea".
 
She tearfully recalled in testimony before both Congress and the UN that "My first child passed away without ever seeing the world, without any time for me to apologise." Ji explained that North Korea does not allow "mixed race babies" forcing pregnant women repatriated to undergo forced abortion and to even kill their own mixed race newborns:
 
"Because North Korea does not allow mixed ethnicities, they make women who have become pregnant in China to miscarry by forcing them to hard labor. At night, we heard pregnant mothers screaming, and babies died without being able to see their mothers. There was a woman who gave birth to a baby at night at 8 months after a full day of work. She was so happy to hold her child, but that moment was short lived. Soon after, a guard commanded her to drown her own newborn. She pleaded the guard for mercy with the baby in her arms, but in the end, she did as told. The image of the dead infant tore through my 20-year-old heart."
 
Ji, a Representative of the Worldwide Coalition to Stop Genocide in North Korea, lashed out at the Chinese government for sending North Koreans refugees back to Kim Jon Un's harsh regime and urged them to stop repatriating defectors. She also called on the US Congress, the United Nations and world leaders to fight for North Koreans seeking to escape the "prison" of North Korea.
 
Hyeona Ji recited a poem she wrote called "Is anyone there?":
 
"I am scared, is anyone there? I'm here in hell, is anyone there? I scream and yell but no one opens the door. Is anyone there? Please listen to our moans and listen to our pain. Is anyone there? People are dying, my friend is dying. I call out again and again but why don't you answer. Is anyone there?"
 
Rep Chris Smith strongly advised at the congressional hearing that "we must seek all viable options to deal with and resolve the North Korean issue, not only in military/diplomatic terms, but also in terms of human rights and freedom of the North Korean people." 
International Pressure for Abortion
Targeting Pro-Life Laws in Latin America and the Caribbean
The O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown Law was a partner in a half-day discussion in Washington, D.C. on the topic "Sexual & Reproductive Rights in Latin America & the Caribbean: Where Are We Now?" along with the Center for Reproductive Rights. The event was hosted by the think tank, Inter-American Dialogue.

Overturning pro-life laws on abortion was a major focus of the meeting which also served as a follow-up to previous collaboration on the expansion of abortion in the region between Georgetown's O'Neill Institute, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Inter-American Dialogue. According to a press release from the Inter-American Dialogue, the event was designed to "explore the implications for democracy, equity, and citizenship raised by policies that restrict access to reproductive health services and move the debate beyond a woman's right to choose to include considerations of social justice, public health, and the separation of church and state."

Mónica Roa, a pro-abortion activist who helped expand abortion in Colombia, began the discussion with "a brief overview of the status of sexual and reproductive rights in the region". The first panel focused on the overturning of Chile's ban on abortion. The panelists were: Claudia Dides, executive director of pro-abortion NGO Miles Chile, Vlado Mirosevic, a Deputy and founder of the Liberal Party of Chile, and María Belén Saavedra from the Chilean Ministry of Women and Gender Equity. The session was moderated by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

It was reported that the panelists discussed the success of the campaign in Chile and agreed "that public support from the executive branch, both support from President Bachelet and the Ministry of Women and Gender Equity, provided major ballast to their efforts. They also discussed the importance of maintaining public support for the bill by focusing on normalizing the issue of abortion and moderating the discourse to avoid polarizing public opinion."

Concern was expressed that "Chile will have presidential elections soon and a president who is anti-abortion could be elected; however, high public support for the bill could help prevent the recent law from being overturned. While panelists remain optimistic, they all agreed that more work was necessary to promote implementation of the law, specifically in rural areas of the country, including educating medical professionals about the recent legal changes."

Oscar Cabrera, executive director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Catholic Georgetown Law moderated the final panel exploring where the region is heading in regards to 'sexual and reproductive rights'. Panelists included a legal gender specialist at the OAS Inter-American Commission on Women, Eva Villarreal.

There was agreement "that enhanced coordination was needed among various social movements and international bodies in order to promote progressive sexual and reproductive rights in the region. This cooperation is necessary to introduce and pass laws, but also to create greater public consciousness about reproductive rights as human rights." Villarreal specifically mentioned the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHCR) as "a tool for positive change".

The event concluded with remarks from Alicia Yamin, a visiting Harvard professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center and program director of the Health and Human Rights Initiative at the O'Neill Institute. Yamin is a known pro-abortion activist who has managed to secure positions of influence including serving on the UN Secretary General's Independent Accountability Panel for the Global Strategy on Women's, Children's and Adolescents' Health (EWEC). She is the co-author of the 2017 paper Narratives of Essentialism and Exceptionalism, The Challenges and Possibilities of Using Human Rights to Improve Access to Safe Abortion.

In her remarks, Yamin discussed the importance of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and highlighted "the ways ultra-conservative governments are removing education on gender and sexual and reproductive rights from school curricula". Yamin noted this "will have a negative impact in the long term, as these young students grow up with a warped knowledge of and opinion on human rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, because of these new policies."

The session ended with agreement on the need to expand implementation of legal changes on abortion as have been passed in Uruguay and Chile and to focus on "enhanced media efforts to promote sexual and reproductive rights as human rights."
Pro-Abortion Advocacy from Council of Europe
The Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe, Latvian American Nils Muiznieks, released a new report that promotes access to abortion on demand for all of Europe- Women's sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe.
 
The report, officially called an "Issue Paper", expresses views on abortion that are normally reserved for pro-abortion organizations and activists and for good reason. The paper was prepared for the commissioner by four employees of pro-abortion legal and policy organization, the Center for Reproductive Rights.

While the report is critical of laws that seek to reduce the number of abortions, it expresses its strongest opposition to new attempts to strengthen laws and policies against abortion calling such actions "retrogressive restrictions". The Summary includes: "In some member states, laws and policies have sought to roll back existing protections for women's sexual and reproductive health and rights, in particular through the introduction of retrogressive restrictions on access to abortion and contraception..."

Commonsense policies to help ensure that women are fully informed before undergoing the life-ending and life-altering act of abortion are considered "legislative retrogression". The paper states, "Mandatory waiting periods and biased counselling requirements prior to abortion are particularly common examples of these newly imposed, retrogressive procedural barriers that undermine women's health and human rights."

An associated web page-Women's sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe, We Have to Act Now- has been set up by the commissioner.

Read more from PNCI here.
Defending Life
UN: Pro-life nations urge member states to protect life
Pro-life countries are pushing back against the pressure for abortion at the United Nations, urging other nations to resist such pressure. Using the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the mechanism through which Member States offer recommendations to other countries' based on their human rights records, some pro-life nations urged other countries to hold tight to their pro-life laws.
 
This November, Kenya urged Benin to "resist calls to further liberalize abortion, and instead implement laws aimed at protecting the right to life of the unborn and recognize that life starts at conception" and told Zambia to "affirm that there is no international right to abortion." Other countries have also issued statements urging a strong defense of the family, including Egypt, Bangladesh, Russia, Belarus, and Uzbekistan. These statements are especially significant since UPR comments are respected by countries since they come from fellow Member States.

Legislative News
Ireland: Committee recommends legalizing abortion on demand
The Irish Oireachtas committee that is tasked with making recommendations on the country's abortion laws has voted to recommend abortion on demand be legalized for the first trimester. By a vote of 14-6, the committee voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment, which protects the right to life from conception and remove all reference of abortion from Ireland's constitution. Suggestions to limit abortion to cases of rape, incest, and fetal anomaly were rejected by claims they would be too complex to legislate. The recommendations also include the availability of abortion pills. The vote results will go into the committee's final report which is expected later this month. Health Minister Simon Harris plans to use the recommendations as a basis for legislation to be introduced in early 2018, which would then go to a national referendum later in the year. 
AU: NSW parliament says no to euthanasia
Following a long and contentious debate, the New South Wales Upper House rejected a bill to legalize assisted suicide. Members, who were given a conscience vote, rejected the bill by a close vote of 19-20. The private members bill, sponsored by MP Trevor Kahn, would have permitted terminally ill patients to kill themselves with the assistance of a doctor. The long debate included many emotional speeches by members on both sides of the issues. MP Fred Nile warned the bill was a dangerous move. "How will such a bill, once passed, impact on how we see value in life?" he said. Supporters plan to reintroduce the legislation in parliament's next term. 
Brazil: Congressional committee votes to ban abortion
A Brazilian Congressional committee has approved a measure to ban abortions without any exceptions. Abortion is currently only permitted in the country in cases of rape, risk to the mother's life or if the unborn baby has anencephaly. The committee voted 18-1 to approve the constitutional amendment addressing maternity leave for mothers of premature babies that also specifies that the right to life should be "inviolate from the moment of conception". The legislation is facing strong opposition from abortion advocates and the UN Population Fund's Brazil office said it "poses an increased risk to women's health". The bill now awaits further action by Congress and will need two-thirds of the vote in both chambers to become law.
Bolivia: Legislature votes to increase access to abortion
Bolivia's Legislative Assembly has voted to permit abortion on demand for the first eight weeks of pregnancy. The approved measure applies to "students, adolescents or girls", including minors and those dependent on their parents. Bolivia's current law only allows abortion in cases of rape or incest, life of the mother, or fetal handicap. Pro-life opposition led by the Catholic Church organized marches to protest the move. Pro-life organizer Luis Aruquipa said the legislation "encourages genocide". President Evo Morales has pledged to sign the legislation into law. 
Ohio: Legislature votes to ban abortion for Down syndrome diagnosis
A bill to ban the abortion of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome has been sent to Ohio governor John Kasich for his signature. The Ohio General Assembly voted in support of the ban, Senate Bill 164, which passed the Ohio Senate a vote of 20-12. "We should not be making a judgment of one life being more valuable than another," said bill sponsor Sen. Frank LaRose. "To me, it's a question of medical ethics as much as what kind of society we want to live in." The Ohio House passed a similar measure in early November and the bill now awaits action by Governor John Kasich who has signed 18 abortion restrictions into law since 2011. Similar laws have been passed in North Dakota, Indiana and Louisiana. 
Executive News
Canada: Renews Funding to UNFPA
Canada's Minister of International Development, Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced $15.6 million in renewed support for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) "to increase access to SRHR services in developing countries". Minister Bibeau stated, "Canada firmly believes that a woman's fundamental right to economic empowerment cannot be distinguished from her fundamental right to choose. When sexual and reproductive health and rights are respected, other rights become more accessible. With its Feminist International Assistance Policy and partners like UNFPA, Canada is committed to a comprehensive approach to the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls globally."
 
The official government website explains abortion is part of Canadian funding, "As part of our feminist approach, Canada is committed to supporting access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services and information. This funding will support the full range of sexual and reproductive health services and information. This includes comprehensive sexuality education, family planning, prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence, safe and legal abortion, and post-abortion care."
Judicial News
UK: Court awards record-breaking award in "wrongful birth" case
A UK court has awarded nearly $12 million US for the "wrongful birth" of an autistic child with hemophilia. The mother who brought the suit says she would have aborted her child, now 6, had she known he had hemophilia. She claims she did not have him tested prenatally because she was assured she did not carry the gene for hemophilia. Had she known, she says, she would not have given birth to a child with it. The judge agreed with the mother, stating, "The effect of the doctor's negligence was to remove the mother's opportunity to terminate a pregnancy that she would not have wanted to continue." The payout is the largest in a "wrongful birth" case. Dr. Anthony McCarthy of England and Wales' Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) said regardless of disability, killing the child in utero is wrong. "Surely our society can support the parents of disabled children without the deeply sinister suggestion that those parents should have been allowed to end those children's lives. There is nothing medical about facilitating this in the case of an unborn, any more than a born, child."

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

In this issue:

 

Featured News

Congress and UN Hear from Victim of Forced Abortion in North Korea

International Pressure for Abortion

Strategy Meeting to Advance Access to Abortion in Latin America

Pro-Abortion Advocacy from Council of Europe

 

Defending Life

UN: Pro-life nations urge member states to protect life

 

Legislative News

Ireland: Committee recommends legalizing abortion on demand

AU: NSW parliament says no to euthanasia

Brazil: Congressional committee votes to ban abortion

Bolivia: Legislature votes to increase access to abortion

Ohio: Legislature votes to ban abortion for Down syndrome diagnosis

 

Executive News

South Korea: Government plans to review abortion ban in 2018

Poland: Government supports conscience protections for pharmacists

Canada: Renews Funding to UNFPA

 

Judicial News

UK: Court awards record-breaking award in “wrongful birth” case

 

 


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www.PNCIUS.org has been updated with expanded information on Human Dignity and critical issues including: Abortion, Bioethics, Child Mortality, End of life issues, Infanticide, Maternal mortality and Sex-selective abortion.
 
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