Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 12
No. 9
October, 2018
 
Focus on the United Nations
Human Rights Committee Tells Countries to Provide Abortion
The Human Rights Committee formally adopted General Comment (GC) no. 36 on article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the right to life, and tells countries that they must provide abortion. The GC, as reported by the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR), sends "a strong message against the narrow legal interpretation of the right to life, as was appropriate in a globalized world, and it underscored the right to life with dignity." 

What is labeled as a "narrow legal interpretation of the right to life" is actually a broad and universally accepted view that human beings have a right to life which begins at conception and ends at natural death. It is based on belief in innate human dignity that does not depend on cultural or social trends and has helped shape laws and policies to preserve and protect human beings from abortion and euthanasia.
 
Article 6 of the CCPR begins by acknowledging: "Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life."  The Human Rights Committee in General Comment no. 36 attempts to change this.
 
While the GC acknowledges that States may regulate abortion, it repeats the extreme pro-abortion argument that pregnancy can be a 'form of punishment' that violates a woman's right to life: "Although States parties may adopt measures designed to regulate terminations of pregnancy, such measures must not result in violation of the right to life of a pregnant woman or her other rights under the Covenant, including the prohibition against cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment."
 
States are told that they must provide access to abortion: "States parties must provide safe access to abortion to protect the life and health of pregnant women, and in situations in which carrying a pregnancy to term would cause the woman substantial pain or suffering, most notably where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or when the foetus suffers from fatal impairment."
 
The abortion paragraph is followed by one that addresses suicide and euthanasia. The GC cautions against suicide: States "should recognize that individuals planning or attempting to commit suicide may be doing so because they are undergoing a momentary crisis which may affect their ability to make irreversible decisions, such as to terminate their life."
 
However, in regards to euthanasia, the GC is in favor of actions to "facilitate the termination of life" by medical professionals of "afflicted adults, such as the mortally wounded or terminally ill, who experience severe physical or mental pain and suffering and wish to die with dignity."
 
Read more here.

 

Holy See Opposes Abortion during Debate in the Security Council
During open debate in the UN Security Council on the resolution on Women, Peace and Security, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York, strongly advocated for life-affirming humanitarian aid that does not include abortion.
 
Addressing the trauma of war suffered by women and girls, the Nuncio said, "They lose loved ones, they are driven out from their homes and they suffer the hardships of lack of food, shelter, and medicine. They can also be an all too easy target for enemy soldiers trying to humiliate and inflict pain on opponents. The Holy See strongly condemns in particular the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and calls on Member States and non-State actors always to defend women and girls, as well as innocent civilians caught in the crossfire."
 
He explained that the Holy See "supports efforts being made to ensure that each woman benefits from assistance as and when this is needed" including particular needs "regarding access to basic healthcare, essential obstetric services, sanitary and food security". But he exhorted "the Holy See cannot accept as a fitting solution those services that promote and provide abortion, such as those included in the Minimum Initial Service Package for reproductive health (MISP)."
 
The Holy See has been closely monitoring MISP and its inclusion in the Inter-agency field manual on reproductive health in humanitarian settings. According to the manual, MISP refers to "activities to be implemented at the outset of a humanitarian crisis" and defines which 'sexual and reproductive health services' are most important in preventing morbidity and mortality, while protecting the right to life with dignity, particularly among women and girls, at the onset of a humanitarian emergency.
 
The 2018 revision of the existing field manual has yet to be made available to public but a report on the changes declares that "the chapter on MISP involves explicit references to safe abortion care."
 
The analysis also explains, "All service delivery activities of the MISP need to be implemented simultaneously through coordinated actions with all relevant partners. The components of the MISP form a minimum requirement and are intended to be implemented in all circumstances."
 
Such a change jeopardizes the ability of Catholic and other faith-based NGOs to provide health care in conflict settings without abandoning their core beliefs in the right to life.
 
Archbishop Azua also addressed the discrimination that results from abortion stating, "Humanitarian aid should never be envisaged or - even more so - operate against the right to life: abortion is never a safe solution. The youngest members of the human family cannot be discriminated against based on emergency situations of migration, conflict or disaster.
 
He highlighted the deadly inconsistency that results when elimination of human beings is promoted as a so-called solution as stated by Pope Francis, "Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defense of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be."
Defending Life
Brazil: Newly Elected President Committed to Pro-Life Protections
In a dramatic political change, Brazil has elected a new conservative president after decades of liberal leadership. President elect Jair Bolsonaro, who won with almost 55 percent of the vote, has vowed to protect the right to life. "We are signing a commitment defending the family, defending the innocence of children in the schools, defending the freedom of religion, against abortion and the legalization of drugs," promised Bolsonaro during his campaign. Bolsonaro, a Catholic, received the support of the Church as well as evangelicals who support his family oriented values.   
UK: Pro-Life Film on Funding of Abortion in Africa Launched at House of Commons
The House of Commons was the site for the launch of the revealing film Strings Attached which exposes the use of UK overseas aid to fund the abortion industry in Africa. Sponsored by Labour MP Mary Glindon and hosted by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), the documentary by Nigerian pro-life leader and founder of Culture of Life Africa,Obianuju Ekeocha follows the path of foreign aid funds and how they are used to fund abortion promoters and providers including Marie Stopes International.
 
The film features harrowing interviews with women who have had their lives devastated by abortion. Ms Ekeocha stated, "This feature-length documentary presents the African side of the story of enthusiastic western donors and the impact on the African recipients of their 'gifts'. We expose how western funding to abortion-providers like Marie Stopes International (MSI), is undermining traditional African values which respect human life."
 
Ms Ekeocha works to stop this new form of neo-colonialism and imperialism and writes in her book Target Africa about the attempt by Western donors to impose a pro-abortion ideology on countries in Africa, most of which believe that life begins at conception and value the lives of unborn children.
Italy: City of Verona Declares It Is Officially "Pro-Life"
The town council of Verona, Italy approved a motion to proclaim the city "pro-life". The legislation provides funding to pro-life groups and calls for the council to encourage women facing unplanned pregnancies to place their babies for adoption. Introduced by Councillor Alberto Zelger, the proposal- Motion 434- is described as "an initiative to prevent abortion and promote motherhood". The motion passed the town council by a vote of 21-6.
International Pressure for Abortion
UNFPA Sponsored Meeting of MPs Promotes Abortion
The 7th International Parliamentarians Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action took place in the Capital of Canada, Ottawa, sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) which continued its instrumental outreach to legislators as the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) takes place next year. Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director UNFPA was one of the speakers.
 
The 2018 conference which was organized as an "important platform for (1) keeping ICPD issues alive and within global mainstream parliamentary discourse, (2) taking stock of the progress of the ICPD Programme implementation and (3) strategically positioning population dynamics within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."
 
In an pre-conference article- Africa: Time for Global Collaboration to Address Pressing Issues of Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights-Hedy Fry, MP and chair of the host Canadian parliamentary association (CAPPD) wrote, "We've also seen an increase of "right wing" political movements that seek to curb access to legal contraception and abortion and the education of youth with regard to sexual health".
 
She overstated the number of participants claiming "300 Parliamentarians from over 150 nations will meet" but actual numbers were much lower with 90 parliamentarians from 70 countries reported to have attended the meeting.
Parliamentarians "pledged to redouble their efforts to implement its visionary recommendations as a key part of the 2030 agenda" and agreed to the Ottawa Statement of Commitment described as a "forward-looking and action-oriented declaration that builds upon previous IPCI Commitments."
 
As in past commitments, attending lawmakers' agreed to changing laws on abortion. ICPD contains the infamous 'Cairo caveat' often a point of contention during UN debates on abortion: "Any measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level according to the national legislative process."
 
The Ottawa Statement of Commitment included:
 
-      Enact laws, policies and programmes for the enforcement of laws and policies to respect and protect the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all individuals;
-      Promote gender equality and empowerment of women and girls to have full control over their bodies and lives;
-      Advocate for the provision of universal health coverage, including accessible and high quality sexual and reproductive healthcare;
-      Remove legal barriers that prevent women and adolescent girls from access to safe abortion
 
A partner for the meeting, the European Parliamentary Forum on Population & Development, tweeted at the end of the meeting: "We can't wait to see how these progressive discussions on gender equality and reproductive rights are implemented into governments across the world."
Legislative News
AU: Queensland Legalizes Abortion
Queensland's parliament has voted to legalize abortion on demand for the first 22 weeks gestation. The new law- the Termination of Pregnancy Act 2018- will also permit late term abortions if two physicians agree it should be performed and will establish "safe access zones" of 150 meters around abortion clinics to prohibit sidewalk counseling. Following several days of emotional debate, MPs were given a conscience vote on the government supported bill, which passed by a vote of 50-41.
 
Pro-life groups vowed to target members who voted for the bill in the next election. "As the first responsibility of government is to protect innocent human life, these politicians have shown themselves to be unfit for public office," said Teeshan Johnson with Cherish Life. Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the vote signals that euthanasia would be the next legislative target. "The Archdiocese of Brisbane will continue to engage with our large network to fight for the lives of the most vulnerable - those yet to be born and those in the final stages of life," he said.

 

UK: Parliament Votes for Abortion in Northern Ireland
MPs in the United Kingdom have voted in favor of legalizing abortion in Northern Ireland. The legislation, a Ten Minute Rule Bill, would regulate abortion in a similar way to other medical procedures and permit abortion on demand up to the 24th week of pregnancy. While the bill is not likely to advance, proponents hope it will accelerate pressure to change Northern Ireland's law. Pro-life groups criticized the British parliament legislating on Northern Ireland's pro-life laws, which the national Assembly voted in 2016 to not change. "It's undemocratic for Westminster MPs to be debating what happens in Northern Ireland," said Bernadette Smyth with Precious Life.

 

Nepal: New Law Defines Reproductive Rights as Human Rights
Nepal has enacted the Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health Rights Act, 2018, defining reproductive rights as human rights in law. The act provides for free abortions in public health facilities for abortions on demand in the first trimester and up to 28 weeks in cases of rape, mother's health and fetal disability. The act extends 'reproductive rights', including abortion, to adolescents and girls. The Center for Reproductive Rights, which has established itself as a key provider of abortions in the country, celebrated the law and vowed to continue to work with the government to implement the policy.

 

Ireland: Health Minister Denies Meeting with Pro-Life TDs
Ireland's Health Minister Simon Harris has refused to meet with pro-life legislators about the country's new legislation on abortion. Ten pro-life TDs say they sought a meeting with the minister to discuss their concerns and were denied. The Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill has passed the second stage of voting by TDs and will now be considered by committee, the stage at which amendments will be debated.

 

Spain: Congress Advances Bill to Legalize Euthanasia
Spain's Congress of Deputies has advanced legislation to legalize euthanasia after it voted to reject an amendment on palliative care. The proposed amendment, offered by the conservative Peoples' Party (PP), sought to replace the socialist government's euthanasia bill. The amendment failed by a vote of 210-134. The euthanasia bill now moves forward to the amendment phase and then will be considered by the Justice Commission before going back to the full congress where it needs to be approved by a majority- 176 votes. PP Deputy Pilar Cortés criticized the government's bill, saying "euthanasia is not progressive" and emphasized the need to respect the "dignity of life from the beginning to the end and to the good death". 

 

Executive News
US: FDA Investigating the Online Sale of DIY Abortion Drugs
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched an investigation into a website that sells and ships abortion drugs by mail. The website, "Aid Access", is run by the same abortion providers who run Women on Web, a Netherlands-based company that ships abortion drugs internationally. Women on Web credits itself with bringing DIY abortion to women who live in countries with pro-life laws. The FDA's investigation is focused on the sale of mifepristone or mifeprex, one of the abortion drugs used in medical abortions, which is banned from being sold over the internet in the US. "Handing out deadly drugs through the mail is a disaster waiting to happen. We know that women have died using chemical abortion drugs, and that how far along a woman's pregnancy is or where it is can be a life or death issue," said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America.
Iceland: Government Proposal Expected to Increase Access to Abortion
Iceland's Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir plans to submit legislation to Parliament to legalize abortion on demand. Iceland's current law requires the approval of two unrelated physicians for abortion and is limited to the first 16 weeks. The Minister's proposal would permit abortion for any reason up to 22 weeks gestation. It is anticipated the change will have broad support across parties.
New Zealand: Law Commission Presents 3 Ways to Legalize Abortion
New Zealand's Law Commission has released its report on 3 possible changes to the country's laws if the government was to propose a policy to treat abortion as a health issue and not a criminal offense; the report was requested by Andrew Little, Minister of Justice for Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. Currently, New Zealand restricts access to abortion for select exemptions and circumstances.
 
The first proposed change, Model A, would remove all specific regulation of abortion and the decision whether to have an abortion "would be made by the woman concerned in consultation with her health practitioner". Under Model B, an abortion provider would need to be "satisfied that the abortion is appropriate in the circumstances, having regard to the woman's physical and mental health and wellbeing." Model C would resemble Model A for the first 22 weeks of pregnancy, and then Model B for abortions after 22 weeks.
 
Several other changes that could be made "to align the law with a health approach to abortion" regardless of which model is chosen chooses include: "Allowing women to access abortion services directly, rather than having to get a referral from a doctor as they do under the current law; Removing the current restrictions around who may perform an abortion and where abortions must be performed. Instead, the provision of abortion services would be regulated by appropriate health bodies, the same as any other health care procedure; Requiring health practitioners who do not wish to provide health services in relation to abortion because of a conscientious objection to refer women to someone who can provide the service."
 
Spokesperson for Right to Life of New Zealand, Ken Orr, responded stating, "The Law Commission's report portrays a day of infamy, betrayal, shameful injustice and the denial of the dignity of women and of motherhood. It is also a callous denial of the humanity of our precious unborn and their inalienable right to life. Shame on this government that tramples on the human rights of our precious unborn and the right of women to be protected from the violence of abortion, it has forfeited its right to govern."
 
The Commission admits that is had not conducted a full review of all aspects of abortion law and revealed its pro-abortion bias in its list of definitions which describes the term "unborn child" as "not a scientific term" and "does not have a commonly accepted definition".
 
Justice Minister Andrew Little said that the legislation governing abortion was "outdated" and that New Zealand needed to follow changes elsewhere such as Ireland and the Australian state of Queensland to make abortion easier to access.
Uruguay: Opposition to Abortion Protocols
Uruguay, hailed by pro-abortion activists as "the most progressive in Latin America for women's reproductive rights" since changing its law in 2012 to allow access to abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy is now being criticized for regulations it put in place which activists claim results in "abortion stigma".
 
The "model for abortion" is now the subject of complaints that abortion is still not considered a human right and abortion is surrounded by burdensome regulations that include a meeting to ensure a woman is informed, followed by a five-day waiting period before she is given abortion-inducing drugs or scheduled for a surgical abortion. Conscientious objection by physicians continues to be criticized as does the use of ultrasound to age of the unborn child.
 
One woman is registering a complaint to the government because after the ultra sound she was given a photo of the baby. She says, "...they gave me photos of the foetus, which are usually souvenirs for [a prospective parent] who is looking forward to having a child. I sat in a park and cried. I didn't regret my decision - I just felt very vulnerable and unsupported by medical professionals."
 
"It's necessary for women like me to file complaints and show the cracks in the law where it's failing. I'm 32, I was really sure of my decision. But a 15-year-old can easily have her mind changed, especially when dealing with social pressure, stigma, parents' influence, and the romanticism surrounding maternity." 
Judicial News
Norway: High Court Upholds Pro-Life Doctor's Conscience Rights
Norway's Supreme Court has ruled to uphold a Polish physician's conscience rights to not participate in abortion. The historic ruling said Dr. Katarzyna Jachimowicz, a Roman Catholic, was within her rights to refuse to insert intrauterine devices (IUDs) into female patients since IUDs can act as abortifacients. "Life begins at conception and I [do] not want to take part in destroying it," said Jachimowicz. Upon her hiring, Jachimowicz was upfront about her beliefs and her employer understood, however, did not verify it in writing and later fired her for refusing.
 
"This win comes at a time when medical professionals across Europe are feeling increasingly threatened in their positions by a pressure to do things they believe to be morally wrong and unethical," said Robert Clarke, the director of European advocacy with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). "As such, it provides a valuable legal precedent in protecting this inherent freedom across the continent. This judgment sends a clear message to the Norwegian authorities that conscience is a fundamental right under the European Convention on Human Rights which must be protected."

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

In This Issue

 
Focus on the United Nations
Human Rights Committee Tells Countries to Provide Abortion
Holy See Opposes Abortion during Debate in the Security Council
 
Defending Life
Brazil: Newly Elected President Committed to Pro-Life Protections
UK: Pro-Life Film on Funding of Abortion in Africa Launched at House of Commons
Italy: City of Verona Votes Itself Officially "Pro-Life"
 
International Pressure for Abortion
UNFPA Sponsored Meeting of MPs Promotes Abortion
Legislative News
AU: Queensland Votes to Legalize Abortion
UK: Parliament Votes for Abortion in Northern Ireland
Nepal: New Law Defines Reproductive Rights as Human Rights
Ireland: Health Minister Denies Meeting with Pro-Life TDs
Spain:Congress Advances Bill to Legalize Euthanasia
 
Executive News
US: FDA Investigating the Online Sale of DIY Abortion Drugs
New Zealand: Law Commission Presents 3 Ways to Legalize Abortion
Iceland: Government Proposal Expected to Increase Access to Abortion
Uruguay: Opposition to Abortion Protocols
 
Judicial News
Norway: High Court Upholds Pro-Life Doctor's Conscience Rights