Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 12
No. 3
April, 2018
 
Focus on the United Nations
Holy See Defends Respect for Life at UN Meetings

Representatives of the Holy See to the United Nations defended respect for the dignity of life during recent meetings in New York and Geneva. At a Holy See side event at
the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meeting at the United Nations in New York,on the theme "No Room in Rural Villages, Cities and Homes for Those with Disabilities? Are Girls and Boys with Down Syndrome Being Left Behind?"Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See, raised concern about the deliberate taking of life through abortion as the UN seeks to "leave no one behind' in pursuit of Agenda 2030.
 
The archbishop first raised concern for the lives lost to sex selection abortion stating, "The international community says that it wants to leave no one behind and to defend the rights and equality of women and girls, for example, but then refuses to do anything when data show that the youngest girls are being systematically discriminated against in the womb, as in the case of sex selective abortion... Many groups and agencies that say they are advancing the cause of women and girls are notably silent when the most vulnerable of those they claim to be defending are being left behind and indeed left dead. Such tacit cooperation in this lethal form of discrimination against girls is, at the least, inconsistent."
 
Next, he highlighted the high abortion rate for unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome, "The inconsistency, however, is even more pronounced when we turn to what is happening with those prenatally diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Despite the commitments made in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights, including that of the right to life, by all persons with disabilities, so many members of the international community stand on the sidelines as the vast majority of those diagnosed with Trisomy-21 have their lives ended before they're even born...last week a famously measured and punctiliously precise columnist in the Washington Post called what is happening to Down Syndrome children in the womb a 'genocide'."
 
Archbishop Auza explained that "the purpose of the event was to promote an inclusive society and quoted Pope Francis who said that the answer to the eugenic trend of ending the lives of the unborn who show some form of imperfect is, in short, love."
Panelists included young women with Down syndrome and parents of children with Down syndrome. Mikayla Holmgren, the first woman with Down syndrome to compete in a Miss USA pageant, said that she sought to show the world that "people with Down syndrome have beauty that starts from the inside out." Chloe Kondrich, and her father Kurt, a retired police officer, discussed their lobby efforts in the state of Pennsylvania to help pass "Chloe's Law" which requires health care providers to inform women who receive prenatal Down syndrome diagnoses that they can receive care and support from the state of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Kondrich noted that the United States has laws to protect the eggs of bald eagles and sea turtles, but none to protect unborn children with Down syndrome. "I can't think of any greater hate crime than identifying a population for termination because they don't live up to our culture's standards of perfection," he said. "Down syndrome kids bring us peace. They unite us."
 
During another Holy See side event-"Affirming the Human Dignity of Rural Women and Girls through Healthcare and Education"- Archbishop Auza in his opening remarks warned about attempts to use select terms "to push a narrow agenda that conceptually treats the normal, healthy functioning of a woman's body and the motherhood that naturally is associated with sexual activity as ailments to be cured or as something to be suppressed."

He explained, "That's what happens when phrases like "reproductive health," "sexual and reproductive health care services" and "sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights" are used to push for the practices of abortion and all forms of contraception, either as an exercise of "rights" or as means to population control or both."
 
Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva addressed a gathering in Geneva of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore and supported language prohibiting patents on life forms.
 
In his remarks supporting inclusion of "no patents on life forms, including human beings" in the Consolidated Document Relating to Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, the archbishop referenced previous agreements and stated, "In relation to human life, Article 4 of the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights states that: "The human genome in its natural state shall not give rise to financial gains ," while Article 21 of the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Dignity of the Human Being With Regard to the Application of Biology and Medicine, states that: "The human body and its parts shall not, as such, give rise to financial gains."

Archbishop Jurkovič also referenced the United Nations Declaration on Human Cloning explaining that it "acknowledges the ethical concerns that certain applications of rapidly developing life sciences may raise with regard to human dignity, human rights and the fundamental freedoms of individuals."
U.S. Pro-Life Position at CSW
The United States demonstrated its pro-life commitment at the recent UN meeting of the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women. In its official country statement,
the U.S. reiterated its opposition to abortion as a method of family planning, stated that abortion is not included in US reproductive health assistance, and that the U.S. does not understand the term "sexual and reproductive health" to include the promotion of abortion despite interpretations that do.
 
The U.S. statement includes the following: "The United States fully supports the principle of informed voluntary choice regarding maternal and child health and family planning. We have stated clearly and on many occasions, consistent with the ICPD Program of Action, that we do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our reproductive health assistance.

The term "sexual and reproductive health" is open to many interpretations. The United States does not understand the term sexual and reproductive health to include the promotion of abortion and educational strategies that may increase sexual risk for youth. We strongly support health care services, which empower adolescents to avoid sexual risks, prevent early pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, thereby improving their opportunity to thrive into adulthood."
CSW concluded with no new commitments in regards to abortion.
Defending Life
Ireland: Former Prime Minister Seeks to Protect Unborn Children
Former Irish Prime Minister John Bruton issued a call for voters to reject repeal of the Eighth Amendment saying that Ireland should be "proud" that it protects the unborn in its constitution. A referendum to determine whether or not Ireland will maintain constitutional protection of unborn children is scheduled for May 25. As reported by PNCI last month, current Prime Minister Leo Varadkar seeks to overturn the pro-life law and is joined by Minister for Health Simon Harris Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty, Minister for Education Richard Bruton, and Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan in efforts to mobilize support for eliminating the ban on most abortions.
 
Bruton, who served as Prime Minister, or Taoiseach, from 1994 to 1997 stated, "To arbitrarily say that, after whatever number of weeks, it's okay to suppress that life is just not in accordance with the values of charity towards the weak in our communities that have exemplified the Irish over the last many centuries.
 
"It's true that we are probably one of the few countries in the world that has, in our constitution, an express recognition of the right to life of the unborn child, but that's something we should be proud of."
 
"Clearly there are divided opinions about this. I think if you accept that a child, before birth, is human then you have to ask yourself as a human, does it have human rights? If it is to have human rights, then surely the first right it must have is the right to life."
 
U.K.: Event in Parliament- "Is Abortion a Mental Health Risk?"
Members of Parliament from all political parties, peers, and guests listened to a presentation by Professor Priscilla Coleman, an academic psychologist of Human Development at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, during an event hosted by pro-life MP Sir Edward Leigh and the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) asking the question "Is Abortion a Mental Health Risk?"
 
Prof. Coleman, author of articles for a number of peer-reviewed journals, including the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the Journal of Medical Ethics, and European Journal of Public Health, shared her extensive research on the psychological effects of abortion.
 
According to SPUC, "She told the assembled MPs, peers and guests that there are over 100 studies identifying a range of risk-factors for post-abortion psychological and relational problems. For example, 14 studies have found that there are mental health consequences for women who have been coerced or pressured into abortion, and 27 listed ambivalence about the abortion decision as a factor.
"Despite the availability of strong research documenting risk factors and professional awareness of them, abortion providers rarely, if ever, routinely screen for them and counsel women at risk, she said.
 
"Perhaps the most shocking result of Prof Coleman's research is a meta-analysis which found that women who have had an abortion experience an 81% higher risk for mental health problems of various forms compared to women who have not. She has concluded that 10% of all mental health problems are directly attributable to abortion." 
 
Sir Edward Leigh stated in his introductory remarks, "After fifty years of legalised abortion, it's vital that both sides of the debate examine the impact it has had on women."
 
Referencing SPUC's Abortion and Women's Health report, he added that "women deserve to know some of the shocking findings in this report, and I want this information to reach those who can make a difference. I urge all my colleagues, especially the Health Secretary, to look at the substantive evidence pointing to the physical and mental harm to women that can happen as a result of abortion." 
Argentina: Thousands March in Support of Life
As Argentina's Congress considers legislation legalizing abortion, tens of
thousands of Argentinians marched through 200 different cities for the 2018 March for Life. Marking the Day of the Unborn Child, marchers voiced their opposition to abortion and called for comprehensive solutions that honor the dignity of both the mother and unborn child. The Buenos Aires march featured inspiring speakers and a group of doctors who presented a pro-life manifesto upholding doctors' conscience rights. "Harming a living human being in any way with the intention of ending its life under no conditions constitutes a medical act," it stated.
 
Additionally, Pope Francis sent a letter to the people of Argentina urging them to defend life and "make a contribution in defense of life and justice". The Holy Father urged the people to "improve the world with your work (and) to take care of the weakest."
International Pressure for Abortion
UK: MP Group Calls for Increased Funding and Access to Abortion Globally
The U.K. All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Population, Development and Reproductive Health called on the U.K. government for increased funding of and access to abortion in developing countries and in the U.K. in a new 'report'. The 'report'-WHO DECIDES? We trust women- Abortion in the developing world and the U.K.- was created from 'expert testimony' given by abortion industry and abortion advocacy giants including International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Marie Stopes International (MSI), Ipas, Center for Reproductive Rights, International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion, Doctors for a Woman's Choice on Abortion (DWCA), SheDecides, and Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada.
 
The report is critical of President Trump's Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy and calls for the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) "to increase investment in the full range of integrated SRHR services, including safe abortion care" and "funding for family planning and the wider sexual and reproductive health and rights agenda to 10% of official development assistance and 10% of national development budgets."
The report credits pro-life activity as creating an "obstacle" to abortion along with religion, abortion 'stigma', lack of access, and lack of information and trained personnel.
 
Promotion of access to abortion-inducing drugs for so-called "medical abortion (MA)" in developing countries and in the U.K. dominates the report, especially in the section entitled Future of Abortion Self-Uses: The Wave of the Future.
 
Values and beliefs in the right to life of unborn children held by health care providers are rejected as the report claims: "Religious beliefs have no place in evidence-based healthcare." Conscientious objection (CO) is disparaged. The group expresses concern about the impact of religion and faith-based institutions, especially Catholic training hospitals in developing countries.
 
PNCI notes that the U.K. All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Population, Development and Reproductive Health is a member of the pro-abortion network of parliamentary groups in the European Parliamentary Forum on Population & Development and receives funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), International Planned Parenthood Federation, and Marie Stopes International. Members of the group spread the pro-abortion message around the world as they meet with parliamentarians in other countries. 

Read more here.

New Pro-Abortion CoE Commissioner for Human Rights

The new Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe (CoE) appears ready to follow in the path of her immediate predecessor and advocate for the destruction of unborn children through abortion as a human right. Dunja Mijatović, from Bosnia and Herzegovina, began her six year ‘mandate’ by expressing support the work of the Commissioner Nils Muižnieks whose 2017 report Women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe included seeking to “Ensure all women’s access to safe and legal abortion care”.

Dunja Mijatović expressed support for the positions and work of the past commissioner and stated that her vision for human rights can be expressed in one work “implementation”. She states, "I intend to keep the legacy of the previous Commissioners’ work…In terms of priorities, my vision is simple. In a word, it is: implementation. Norms, resolutions, treaties are there to guide us. Yes, we do need political will to make sure they are realised….I look forward to cooperating with governments, national authorities, international organisations, human rights defenders, journalists, NGOs, and human rights structures.”

The implementation she seeks as stated in the report includes overturning laws and restrictions on abortion to ensure “that abortion is legal on a woman’s request in early pregnancy, and thereafter throughout pregnancy to protect women’s health and lives and ensure freedom from ill-treatment”; removing requirements for waiting periods or parental consent; changing “laws and policies requiring biased counselling prior to abortion and ensure that abortion counselling is never mandatory, biased or directive”; and imposing limits on conscientious objection by individual health providers.

Pro-abortion ASTRA Network, based in Poland, welcomed her election by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and posted on Facebook that it looked forward to “six years of cooperation”. 

Legislative News
Poland: UN Working Group Pushes against Pro-Life Bill
A UN working group has urged the Polish parliament to reject the pro-life bill it is currently considering. The "Stop Abortion" bill, a citizens' initiative, would remove the exception for disability of the unborn child from Poland's abortion law, permitting abortion only in cases of rape and life of the mother. The UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice told the parliament that if it adopted the "Stop Abortion" bill, it would "violate Poland's human rights obligations". Though there is no international right to abortion, the Working Group's statement argues, "Prohibiting women from accessing safe, legal abortion violates a number of human rights enshrined in international law, including the rights to life, health and health care, nondiscrimination and equality, privacy, and freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."
 
Member of Parliament Kaja Godek, a sponsor of the legislation, said the intent of the bill is to prevent "eugenic abortion". Godek explained, "The original idea behind prenatal tests has been completely distorted. Instead of treating and preparing parents and doctors to receive a child and help him, it makes it easier to choose extermination."
Cyprus: Parliament Votes to Legalize Abortion and Abandon Pro-Life Laws
A bill to legalize abortion in Cyprus passed the parliament on Good Friday, following years of pressure. Cyprus was one of the few remaining European countries with strong pro-life laws. The new bill will permit abortion on demand up to 12 weeks, and up to 19 weeks in cases of rape. It passed with a majority, 33 in favor, 8 against and 5 abstentions. The bill has been under debate for the last three years in the House human rights committee and strongly opposed to by the Catholic Church. Several MPs argued against the bill, including Elam leader Christos Christou, who held up a plastic embryo and told MPs that this tiny being is not an object but a person with a heartbeat who could kick and smile. MP Angelos Votsis argued that the right of a woman shouldn't supersede the baby's right to life and protested that fathers have no rights under the new legislation. Additional legislation with comprehensive guidelines on abortion is expected to soon follow.  
UK: Conscience Rights Bill Progresses through House of Lords
The UK's House of Lords is considering legislation to bolster medical personnel's conscience rights. The proposal would clarify the law to permit doctors and nurses and other medical practitioners who choose not to participate in end of life treatment, abortion, and similar procedures while still protecting themselves and their jobs. Currently, many medical providers who follow their conscience are subject to discrimination and some have lost their jobs as a consequence.
 
"No one should be coerced by the risk to their careers into violating their conscience, and it is plainly inconsistent with the principles of equality legislation to exclude whole sections of society from areas of medical employment simply because of their moral beliefs. Reasonable accommodation of conscientious objection is a matter both of liberty and equality: of individual freedom and social inclusion. It is promising to see support from across the country for the Bill," said Baroness O'Loan, sponsor of the private member's bill.
Mexico: Senate Approves Bill to Protect Conscience Rights
The Mexican Senate has approved a bill to protect medical personnel's conscience rights. The legislation states that "... professionals, technicians, aides, social service providers that are part of the National Healthcare System shall be able to invoke the right of conscientious objection and excuse themselves from participating and/or cooperating in all those programs, activities, practices, treatments, methods or research that contravenes their freedom of conscience based on their values or ethical principles." The Senate approved the measure by a vote of 53-15. Abortion in Mexico is generally only permitted in cases of rape, incest or health of the mother, however, laws can vary as some of Mexico's 31 states and Mexico City have voted to make it increasingly available.
 
Chamber of Deputies member Norma Edith Martínez Guzmán, sponsor of a similar bill that passed the House last fall, called the passage a victory for "the defense of life" on Facebook. "[The bill] has been approved in the Senate yesterday without any change, and this has concluded its process; and the right of all health professionals to act in accordance with their convictions has been protected," said Guzman.  
Executive News
Chile: Health Ministry Moves to Implement New Abortion Law
Minister of Health, Emilio Santelices, has begun to issue regulations to implement the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy bill which legalized abortion for three exceptions. Included in the regulations is a provision to allow private clinics and hospitals the right of conscientious objection and elimination of the requirement that each act of conscientious objection be signed by the director of the hospital or clinic. Minister Santelices said he is clarifying guidelines in the law about conscientious objection by detailing which institutions can object to providing abortion and that healthcare providers who refuse to perform abortions must refer a woman or girl to a facility that will carry out the procedure and pay for her transport. Protesters objected to decision on the "protocols on conscientious objection" claiming it is an attempt to create barriers to abortion access.
Germany: Health Minister Says Abortion Supporters Care More About Animals than People
Germany's new health minister created a stir when he said pro-abortionists care more about animal rights than human lives. Jens Spahn, who was recently appointed health minister by Chancellor Angela Merkel, voiced his opposition to a move to permit advertising of abortion by doctors and abortion clinics. "When it comes to the lives of animals, some who now want to promote abortions are uncompromising, but sometimes this debate no longer takes into account that it is about unborn human life," said Spahn. The health minister said he will oppose legislation that seeks to end the ban on abortion advertising.
France: Pledges over $12 Million to She Decides Abortion Fund
French Secretary of State in Charge of Gender Equality, Marlène Schiappa, announced during the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women that "on behalf of the French Republic, an increase of 10 million euros in favor of the 'She Decides' initiative for sexual and reproductive rights." An online translation of her remarks includes the comment: "France can only deplore the decisions of its historical allies Hungary, Poland, the United States of America ... to question, more or less directly, access to abortion." She pledged that France will "continue to defend everywhere, always, sexual and reproductive rights" and that "50% of development aid will be devoted to projects for gender equality by 2022."

Judicial News
Scotland: Pro-Life Group Challenges Government's Plan for DIY Abortions
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children Scotland (SPUC Scotland) is challenging a decision by the Scottish Government to permit women to take abortion pills on their own at home. The pro-life group is requesting a Judicial Review from the Court of Sessions, challenging the decision last fall by Chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood. SPUC pointed out that the decision to allow DIY abortions runs counter to the 1967 Abortion Act which requires the presence of medical supervision for abortions. SPUC chief executive John Deighan explained, "The move to trivialise abortion is one that harms women and creates an environment where some women are even urged to have an abortion because it does not suit others. Our legal advice is clear, and we are confident that the Scottish Government's decision to give women the abortion pill to take home is not in keeping with the law." The case is expected to be heard in June 2018.

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

In this issue

 
Focus on the United Nations
Holy See Defends Respect for Life at UN Meetings
US Pro-Life Position at CSW
 
Defending Life
Ireland: Former Prime Minister Seeks to Protect Unborn Children
UK: Event in Parliament- "Is Abortion a Mental Health Risk?"
Argentina: Thousands March in Support of Life
 
International Pressure for Abortion
UK: MP Group Calls for Increased Funding and Access to Abortion Globally
New Pro-Abortion CoE Commissioner for Human Rights
 
Legislative News
Poland: UN Working Group Pushes against Pro-Life Bill
Cyprus: Parliament Votes to Legalize Abortion and Abandon Pro-Life Laws
UK: Conscience Rights Bill Progresses through House of Lords
Mexico: Senate Approves Bill to Protect Conscience Rights
 
Executive News
Chile: Health Ministry Moves to Implement New Abortion Law
Germany: Health Minister Says Abortion Supporters Care More About Animals than People
France: Pledges over $12 Million to She Decides Abortion Fund
 
Judicial News
Scotland: Pro-Life Group Challenges Government's Plan for DIY Abortions