Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 13
No. 1
January, 2019
 
Focus on the U.S.A.
Abortion until Birth Passed in New York, Tabled in Virginia
2019 began with pro-abortion activists in left-leaning states launching aggressive campaigns to declare abortion legal with no restrictions on access as they fear a newly conservative U.S. Supreme Court could overturn the 1973 rulings that made abortion legal. The action is also in response to the record number of abortion restrictions passed in conservative states; 424 abortion restrictions enacted since 2010 and in 2018, 15 states adopted 27 new restrictions.
 
The New York state legislature approved- and Governor Cuomo signed-Senate Bill 240, the Reproductive Health Act sponsored by Liz Krueger, on the 46th
anniversary of Roe v.Wade, January 22. The bill will allow abortion on demand during the first 24 weeks "from the commencement of pregnancy" and throughout pregnancy if "there is an absence of fetal viability" or if "the abortion is necessary to protect the patient's life or health."
 
The Act does not contain a definition of "health" but the U.S. Supreme Court in the abortion decision Doe vs Bolton explained its broad interpretation of what is meant by "health": "The medical judgment [for a late-term abortion] may be exercised in the light of all factors-physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age-relevant to the well-being of the patient."
 
Similarly, the broad definition of health by the World Health Organization
(WHO), states that health is "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."
 
While some defenders of the New York law have tried to dispute that it allows "abortion on demand until birth" the broad explanations of what constitutes "health" by the U.S. Supreme Court and the WHO support the argument that the law allows abortion on demand throughout pregnancy until birth.
 
Meanwhile, lawmakers in Virginia acted to protect the unborn by tabling a bill in committee that would allow abortion even when a woman was dilating and in labor.
 
The Repeal Act, House Bill No. 2491supported by Governor Ralph Northam (D), attempted to remove regulations regarding second and third trimester abortion. During questioning in committee, bill sponsor Delegate Kathy Tran (D) admitted that there was no end limit in the bill and that if a woman requested an abortion for mental health reasons while in labor, the law would allow her to have an abortion.
 
The video of her admittance-"My bill would allow that, yes," -can be seen here.
 
President Trump criticized the Virginia law calling it "terrible" and promising it would "lift up the whole pro-life movement like maybe it's never been lifted up before."
 
Governor Northam  expressed his own extreme position that was viewed as support for infanticide when asked about the bill allowing abortion up until birth he responded, "If a mother is in labor...the infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians & mother."
 
Vermont is set to consider a bill similar to the one passed in New York, state House Bill 57which denies the right to life of any unborn child stating "A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus shall not have independent rights under Vermont law".
 
The section "Interference with Reproductive Choice Prohibited" removes legal prohibitions against self-induced abortion stating, "No State or local law enforcement shall prosecute any individual for inducing, performing, or attempting to induce or perform the individual's own abortion."
 
New Mexico, Massachusetts, Washington, and Rhode Island are also considering new laws expanding access to abortion or removing restrictions on abortion.
 
National polls, however, indicate that extreme pro-abortion legislation does not reflect the views of most Americans. According to a recent Marist Poll
, three in four Americans (75 percent) say abortion should be limited to - at most - the first three months of pregnancy. It also includes more than six in 10 (61 percent) who identify as "pro-choice" on abortion; less than a third of Americans (30 percent) would want the Court to rule to allow unrestricted abortion.
 
Read more here.
Congress, President Trump, and the March for Life
The 116th session of the U.S. Congress began with the House of Representative under control of the Democratic Party led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Upon taking the oath of office Speaker Pelosi invoked the name of St Francis and urged lawmakers to heed the call to "care for all God's creation" but Democratic legislation quickly revealed discrimination against the most precious and at-risk of God's creation-unborn children.
 
One of the first bills Speaker Pelosi allowed, and which passed the House-H.R. 21, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019- includes a reversal of President Trump's Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA) policy requiring international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that receive global health assistance grant money to not perform or actively promote abortion.
 
Pro-life Members of the House of Representatives (169) and Senate (47) sent a letter to President Trump asking him to veto any legislation that reaches his desk that changes current pro-life policy and assured him of the necessary votes to sustain a veto.
 
President Trump, in affirming his pro-life position, stated in video remarks to the annual March for Life, that he had sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi
explaining that "his Administration had the greatest respect for life" and that he would "veto any legislation that weakens current pro-life federal polices and laws, or that encourages the destruction of innocent human life at any stage."
 
In remarks to those gathered for the March for Life, Senator Steve Daines announced that he had formed the first Senate pro-life caucus to help advance pro-life legislation in the Senate while House pro-life caucus co-chairs, Reps Chris Smith (R) and Dan Lipinski (D) expressed their ongoing opposition to abortion and support for protecting the right to life of unborn children.
 
In his remarks, Rep Smith addressed the theme of the March, "Unique from Day One: Pro-Life is Pro-Science" stating how doctors routinely treat "society's littlest patients-unborn babies" and that the "humanity of the unborn child is beyond doubt". The pro-life lawmaker equated the pro-abortion movement to "some kind of modern-day flat earth society" that "continues to cling to outdated indefensible arguments cloaked in euphemism."
 
Jeanne Mancini, President of March for Life, explained the  theme of the March stating, "Science is behind the pro-life movement. We see that medical and technological advancements always affirm the pro-life movement...As science progresses, we see clearly that every life is unique from day one in the womb."
International Pressure for Abortion
Parliamentarians Seeking Support for SRHR
Pro-abortion parliamentarians associated with UNFPA continue to try and find support for their October 2018 statement, known as the Ottawa Statement of Commitment Committed to the Implementation of ICPD on the Road to 2030, which activists and like-minded UN officials will use to promote the radical 'sexual and reproductive health and rights' agenda.
 
In April, the UN will mark the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) that was held in Cairo during which attempts to advance an international right to abortion were blocked by a coalition of countries led by the Holy See.
 
The radical statement, currently supported by less than 130 lawmakers from 78 countries originated during the 7th International Parliamentarians' Conference on the Implementation (IPCI) of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Ottawa. UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem's message to the gathering included acknowledgement of the importance of parliamentarians in achieving success especially "ensuring reproductive rights and choices for all is integral to meeting all the Sustainable Development Goals."
 
The Ottawa statement includes numerous references to "reproductive health services"-a term that includes abortion- and a commitment to "remove legal barriers preventing women and adolescent girls from access to safe abortion" and "revising restrictions within existing abortion laws".
 
The following are listed among the other many commitments and pledges:
 
Enact laws, policies and programmes that respect, protect and fulfill the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all individuals, including through the adoption of a human rights-based approach that works towards realizing the accessibility, availability, acceptability and quality of a comprehensive package of sexual and reproductive health services and information;
 
Respect, promote, protect and fulfill the right to health by advocating for provision of universal health coverage, including sexual and reproductive health that is accessible, available, acceptable, affordable and of good quality, including services for medical emergency obstetric care, increasing the number of midwives, skilled birth attendants, and family planning services;
IPPF and Others Tracking Abortion Funding
The new report, European Donor Support to Sexual & Reproductive Health & Family Planning: Trends Analysis 2017-18, by Countdown 2030 Europe (C2030E), a consortium of 15 European non-governmental organizations led by IPPF European Network, "analyses the most recent trends in SRH/FP policies and funding by European donor countries."
 
Countdown 2030 claims that the report shows that financial and political commitments were "solidified and support for SRHR being championed in many global flora" despite what it calls "the backlash against SRHR and an increasing anti-women's rights sentiment entering our decision-making spaces."
 
Funding for sexual and reproductive health by twelve European countries was tracked with Denmark listed as having "the most significant increase in percentage growth in funding for SRH/FP, more than doubling its overall funding to SRH/FP". The combined amount for all 12 European donor countries was listed as 808 million Euros (equal to over $924,000,000) for 2017, an increase of 17% from 2016. The UK, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden continued as the largest donors with the Netherlands maintaining 2016 funding levels.
Belgium and Ireland were reported to have increased funding while Germany, France and Finland sustained 2016 levels. Spain and Switzerland decreased their funding.
 
IPPF and others expressed concern about the Trump administration's Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy which it states "will continue to impact SRH/FP funding worldwide." They claim "strong advocacy is needed to keep SRH/FP high on the political and aid agenda of C2030E countries, especially in the event that the current administration wins another term in 2020" and express concern that "the UNFPA Supplies Programme still need to be increased and the need for coherent, defined advocacy is vital".
 
IPPF is one of the largest global abortion providers which lost US funding under President Trump's pro-life international aid policy.

 

European Parliament Report on Conscience and SRH
The European Parliament's Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) issued a report on conscience- Sexual and reproductive health rights and the implication of conscientious objection- that purported to have examined six EU Member States for what is described as "their legislation and practices relating to the protection of sexual and reproductive rights and the provision of related goods and services."
 
Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Sweden were the subjects of the report which claimed that conscientious objection is "not an absolute right" and that individuals cannot use their religious beliefs to block others' access to services to which they are legally entitled. In the context of abortion, 22 EU Member States recognize a right to conscientious objection: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Hungary, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom.
 
The report stated that the "right to conscientious objection, requires a balancing of the rights of health providers to express their beliefs with states' responsibility to ensure people's access to their SRHR, specifically access to related services and goods." It included a number of recommendations to the EU and Member States including that "the EU strengthen its legal framework on equal access to sexual and reproductive health goods and services" and the EU "should include sexual and reproductive health in its next Strategy on gender equality." 

 

Legislative News
Mexico: Congress Considering Bill Legalize Abortion
The Mexican Chamber of Deputies is considering legislation to legalize abortion on demand. The bill, sponsored by congresswoman Lorena Villavicencio Ayala, would permit abortion on demand for the first trimester and in cases of the mother's health or fetal handicap. Congresswoman Villavicencio has falsely claimed that Mexico needs to legalize abortion in order to comply with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women, though in fact there is no international obligation to legalize abortion. Currently, Mexican federal law prohibits abortion; however, several states have legalized it with varying exceptions. Mexico's Congressional Commission on Human Rights recently approved the bill as it progresses through the legislative process.
Ecuador: Another Pro-Life Country Debates Legalizing Abortion
The Ecuadorian National Assembly has begun debate on legislation to revise the national penal code and legalize abortion. The proposal would permit abortion in cases of rape, incest, and fetal disability. Ecuador is currently one of the most pro-life countries in South America and its constitution protects the right to life from conception. Strong pressure for legalization has come from national and international abortion advocates as well as UN entities such as UNICEF, the Human Rights Council (HRC), and treaty-based bodies such as the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). While no treaty requires countries to permit abortion, pro-abortion recommendations made by the treaty body members are still used to pressure pro-life countries into changing their laws.
 

The legislation was approved by Ecuador's Commission of Justice by a vote of 7-0 with two members abstaining from the vote. The bill now awaits consideration of the full legislature.

Isle of Man: New Abortion Law Given Royal Assent
Legislation to legalize abortion on the Isle of Man has been given Royal Assent, allowing the new law to go into effect. The new proposal will permit abortion on demand in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy and up to 24 weeks if the unborn baby has a disability or other societal reasons. The Isle of Man had previously protected the unborn from abortion except in cases of rape or the mother's mental health. Now that the new law has been approved by the UK's Ministry of Justice, the Manx government will introduce it at a date not yet determined. Sue Richardson, with the pro-life campaign group Humanity and Equality in Abortion Reform (HEAR), vowed to keep fighting for the right to life and said it was a "dark and sad day for the Isle of Man".
 
India: Lower House Bans Commercial Surrogacy
The Lok Sabha, India's lower house, has passed The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016 to prevent the exploitation of women of low socioeconomic status. India, a destination country for infertile couples and others seeking to become parents, will now limit surrogacy to resident Indian citizens and only to couples who have been legally married for a minimum of five years and are aged 26-55 for men and 23-50 for women. The bill permits altruistic surrogacy only and a surrogate must be a close relative of one of the intended parents, be between 25-35 years old, married (or previously married), and have at least one child of her own. Any use of surrogacy for sex selection purposes is banned and single individuals, same-sex couples, and unmarried cohabiting couples are excluded.
Executive News
Batavian, New York: Town Council Objects to NY Abortion Law
The town council in the small New York city of Batavian decided to issue a letter and place on next month's agenda its objection to the New York law allowing abortion until birth after being petitioned by a disabled Marine veteran. Chris Connelly said, "Abortion is murder and it has become America's holocaust ... 60 million children". He also urged the council that the city should become a "sanctuary for the unborn" much as other cities have declared themselves to be sanctuaries for illegal immigrants. Council member Rose Mary Christian applauded Connelly's stance and urged the board to do something commenting about Governor Cuomo that "He's (Cuomo) a murderer period. I don't care how you slice it or dice it. He's a murderer ... period."
Ireland: Health Minister Rushes to Prohibit Pro-Life Protests
As the country's new abortion law is implemented, the government now wants to silence pro-life voices. Health Minister Simon Harris has vowed that legislation to create "safe access zones" around facilities performing abortions would be soon presented to the Cabinet. "It will also prohibit interfering or communicating with a person in a safe access zone in a way that 'causes distress, and to prohibit capturing and/or distributing images of any person in a safe access zone'," said a spokesman for the Health Minister. The rush to create "safe zones" was sparked by demands from pro-abortion lawmakers after a small peaceful protest was held outside a medical facility.
Azerbaijan: Government Addresses Sex-Selection
Azerbaijan's government is introducing new sex-education curriculum that will target sex-selective abortions. Rates of sex-selective abortion in the country are one of the highest in the world with the overall sex-ratio at birth of 115 boys to 100 girls. The government, which has previously considered but did not enact a ban on prenatal gender detection, is hopeful education will influence behavior change.
Judicial News
EU: Human Rights Court Takes Case of Euthanasia for Depression
The European Court of Human Rights will hear a case on euthanasia for "untreatable depression" in Belgium. The suit is brought by Tom Mortier, whose mother Godelieva De Troyer was euthanized by lethal injection after suffering from depression for much of her life. While her regular doctor refused to assist her in suicide, after making a donation to an organization co-founded by Dr Wim Distelmans, Distelmans gave her the lethal injection. Mortier and his family didn't learn their mother was even considering euthanasia until after her death. The Court will investigate whether Belgium violated the human rights convention by its failure to protect De Troyer's life. "The slippery slope is on full public display in Belgium, and we see the tragic consequences in this case," said Paul Coleman, executive director of ADF International which is representing Mortier. "Belgium has set itself on a trajectory that, at best, implicitly tells its most vulnerable that their lives are not worth living."
India: High Court Approves and Rejects Late Term Abortions
The Calcutta High Court has both approved and rejected appeals for late term abortion. Under India's Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971, court approval is needed for any abortion over 20 weeks gestation. In one case, the Court approved the abortion of a 25 week-old disabled baby whose mother had petitioned the Court on the grounds that the unborn child's brain was underdeveloped. The medical board agreed.
 
In another case, the same Court ruled against abortion. In this case, the 39 year old petitioner sought an abortion of her 26 week old unborn child who had been diagnosed with Down syndrome and a congenital defect. The woman also cited physical and mental trauma and future financial burden. The medical board refused the request stating that the baby could be "born alive" and would survive with advanced care.  The Court agreed with the board's decision, with Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty noting that the baby's organs had already fully developed. "At this stage, abortion is impossible. If the baby is born with Down syndrome, it can survive with treatment," said Justice Chakraborty.

 


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

In this Issue

 
Focus on the U.S.A.
Abortion until Birth Passed in New York, Tabled in Virginia
Congress, President Trump, and the March for Life
 
International Pressure for Abortion
Parliamentarians Seek Support for SRHR Statement
IPPF and Others Tracking Abortion Funding
European Parliament Report on Conscience and SRH
 
Legislative News
Mexico: Congress Considering Bill Legalize Abortion
Ecuador: Another Pro-Life Country Debates Legalizing Abortion
Isle of Man: New Abortion Law Given Royal Assent
India: Lower House Bans Commercial Surrogacy
 
Executive News
Batavian, New York: Town Council Objects to NY Abortion Law
Ireland: Health Minister Rushes to Prohibit Pro-Life Protests
Azerbaijan: Government Addresses Sex-Selection
 
Judicial News
EU: Human Rights Court Takes Case of Euthanasia for Depression
India: High Court Approves and Rejects Abortions for Handicapped Babies

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