Last Thursday an important document signed by leading intellectuals who affirm the sanctity of human life was launched during a press conference at the United Nations in New York. It provides solid ground for refuting the claim that there is a “right to abortion” enshrined in international law.
Professor Robert George of Princeton and former US Ambassador Grover Joseph Rees challenged claims made by UN personnel and others that there exists such a right with their release of the San Jose Articles, reports Timothy Herrman at the Turtle Bay and Beyond blog.
As recently as a few weeks ago the UN Special Rapporteur on Health, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Secretary General have been quoted as saying that an international right to abortion exists exists. In addition, according to Human Rights Watch the CEDAW Committee has directed 93 countries to change their laws on abortion. One such country is Colombia where in 2002 the Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit against Colombia “claiming that Colombia’s law violated its international agreements to protect a woman’s right to life and health” (1). The Colombian Constitutional Court then proceeded to rule Colombia’s abortion laws as unconstitutional (2).
Along with Ambassador Rees and Professor George, the articles have also been signed by 30 other international experts in law, medicine, and public policy. According to Professor George, the purpose of the articles will be to “support and assist those around the world who are coming under pressure from UN personnel and others who say falsely that governments are required by international law to repeal domestic laws protecting human beings in the embryonic and fetal stages of development against the violence of abortion.”
What is exolicitly included in international instruments is the right to life. Article 8 of the San Jose Articles reads:
Under basic principles of treaty interpretation in international law, consistent with the obligations of good faith and pacta sunt servanda, and in the exercise of their responsibility to defend the lives of their people, states may and should invoke treaty provisions guaranteeing the right to life as encompassing a state responsibility to protect the unborn child from abortion.