Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 15
No. 3
March, 2021
 
Focus on the United States

Biden State Department to Track Countries Access to Abortion


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced during the release of the 2020 Human Rights Reports evaluating countries on human rights that it will change the Trump administration policy and include a section titled “Reproductive Rights” in future human rights reports and will issue an addendum to the 2020 reports later in the year.
 
He emphasized the Biden administration’s strong belief that access to abortion is a human right saying, “It is one of many steps – along with revoking the Mexico City Policy, withdrawing from the Geneva Consensus Declaration, resuming support for the United Nations Population Fund – that we are taking to promote women’s health and equity at home and abroad. Because women’s rights – including sexual and reproductive rights – are human rights.”
 
Human Rights Watch released a statement applauding the action charging that “omissions in subsequent years paralleled harmful policies aimed at restricting reproductive rights globally, showcasing a deliberate attempt by the administration to exclude reporting on these rights.” It criticized President Trump’s withholding of funds from international organizations that perform or promote abortion and from the United Nations Population Fund. It called on the Biden administration “to rectify the US approach to sexual and reproductive health and rights” and expressed concern that “reproductive rights could still be excluded in government reporting if another administration decided to pursue anti-choice policies” and called for congressional action to “reintroduce and pass the Reproductive Rights are Human Rights Act, which would require the State Department to report on violations of reproductive rights globally.”

President Biden Signs $1.9 Trillion Relief Bill with No Pro-Life Funding Protection


President Biden signed a controversial $1.9 trillion bill, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, presented as a COVID relief effort the bill but the massive funding bill lacks any measures to prevent funds from being used to pay for abortion. Pro-life advocates in Congress viewed the bill as the latest radical Democrat action to “never-waste-a-crisis” bill. During congressional debate, pro-life lawmakers voiced opposition to the failure to include longstanding Hyde and Helms Amendment protections from over $450 billion in new health-related federal spending allowing these funds to be used to pay for abortions at home and abroad and $500 million in humanitarian response activities for migrants and refugees to be spent by the United Nations.
 
During Senate debate, Senator Lankford offered an amendment (S1295-1300), cosponsored by Senate Pro-Life Caucus chair Senator Daines, to apply the protections of the Hyde Amendment to much of the health-related funding in the bill but the Senate parliamentarian determined the amendment was not compliant with the technical process known as the Senate’s Byrd Rule. The Senate then voted to waive the Byrd Rule for the Lankford amendment to the 60-vote threshold. Three Democrats, Sens. Manchin, Casey, and Kaine, voted with Republicans to allow the Lankford amendment but after the vote failed, the three voted for final passage of the bill. No Republican in the House or Senate voted for the bill; one House Democrat rejected it in the final House vote.
 
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement by Archbishop Gomez, USCCB chair, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities and five other committee chairman following Biden’s signing of the bill that praised “positive provisions” of the bill but called it “unconscionable” that Congress passed the bill “without critical protections needed to ensure that billions of taxpayer dollars are used for life-affirming health care and not for abortion.”
 
The bishops stated, “As the American Rescue Plan Act was being written, Catholic bishops reached out to every House and Senate office to express our support for providing additional relief to help poor and vulnerable people who are most at risk of harm from this pandemic, and our strong conviction that this relief should also protect the unborn and their right to life.”
 
“Unlike previous COVID relief bills,” the bishops said, “sponsors of the American Rescue Plan Act refused to include the long-standing, bipartisan consensus policy to prohibit taxpayer dollars from funding abortions domestically and internationally.”
 
They explained that Hyde Amendment language was needed “because this bill includes many general references to health care that, absent the express exclusion of abortion, have consistently been interpreted by federal courts not only to allow, but to compel, the provision of abortion without meaningful limits.”
 
“The many important, life-saving provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act have been undermined because it facilitates and funds the destruction of life, which is antithetical to its aim of protecting the most vulnerable Americans in a time of crisis,” they added.
 
In remarks upon signing, Biden called the American Rescue Plan Act “historical, and transformational”. It is indeed transformational in forcing American taxpayers who believe in the sanctity of life to be pay for abortion. 

Biden Administration Expresses Support for Abortion Worldwide at the UN


The Biden administration voiced its radical pro-abortion position to the world during the UN Human Rights Council’s adoption of the report of the third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for the U.S. stating that the administration “believes in the advancement of gender equality and women’s and girl’s empowerment” and that this includes “promoting their sexual and reproductive health and rights, both in the United States and globally.”
 
Lisa Peterson, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, delivered the U.S. remarks making it clear that President Biden had already acted to change the pro-life policies of President Trump by revoking the Trump administration’s Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy—formerly called the Mexico City Policy—and withdrawing the US from the Geneva Consensus Declaration which had declared that there is no international right to abortion. She voiced Biden’s commitment to abortionism by adding, “These steps will help improve the lives of women and girls by increasing their access to critical health services.” The only health service denied by the pro-life policy and position was abortion on demand.
 
The UPR is the only time that UN Member States make recommendations to each other based on human rights concerns. The country under review does not have to accept the recommendations but Peterson stated that the US “supported a number of recommendations from Norway, Canada, Austria, Mexico, and others related to sexual and reproductive health and rights.” In fact, the US received recommendations related to access to abortion, including international funding for abortion, from 14 countries and accepted all as listed in Addendum 1 of the Outcome of the Review.
 
The recommendations by Norway, Austria, Canada, Netherlands and New Zealand called on the U.S. to end pro-life funding restrictions on U.S. foreign aid. The Netherlands specified that it recommended that the U.S. “Repeal the Helms Amendment”, which prevents the U.S. from directly funding abortion as a method of family planning in foreign assistance.
 
France, Iceland, Luxembourg, Malaysia, and Mexico used various phrasing to call on the U.S. to ensure access by women and girls in the U.S. to sexual and reproductive health information, education, and services.
 
Australia directed its recommendation to conscience protections recommending, “Ensure that laws permitting the refusal of care based on religious and moral beliefs do not restrict women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights and that measures are put in place to monitor and prevent violations of these rights.”
 
Denmark wants the U.S. to “Rescind the Title X restrictions to ensure access to comprehensive family planning services for all”.
 
Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and other pro-abortion organizations were ecstatic with the U.S. response and expressed their eagerness to work with President Biden to expand access to abortion in the U.S. and around the world.

Read more here.

Senate Confirms Biden’s Radical Nominees to Oversee Health


The U.S. Senate confirmed President Biden’s radical nominees to oversee health in the U.S. and around the world. Xavier Becerra, California’s attorney general and former congressman, was confirmed as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS is an expansive department of the U.S. government with sweeping oversight on policies related to health in the U.S. and diplomatically, including policies promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO).
 
A former Trump administration official at HHS warned that Xavier Becerra could pose grave implications for the global pro-life cause. Valerie Huber, former U.S. Special Representative for Global Women's Health, warned that “Having someone who is such a radical pro-abortion advocate will move that agenda to its limits.” 
 
Huber explained that the repeal of the Mexico City Policy by Biden will allow the US to use U.S. taxpayer dollars to fund international groups that provide abortion but that Becerra’s confirmation “could also have a wide-ranging impact on abortion not just within the United States, but overseas.” 
 
“Most pro-life advocates here in the United States and citizens who don’t want their taxpayer dollars used for abortion often focus only on what’s happening here within the borders of the United States government,” Huber said. 
 
“What that does is gives a president and an HHS secretary who is so focused on abortion plenty of space for mischief-making that could result in abortion being deemed an international human right,” she warned. 
 
Huber added that HHS is “ground zero for either the protection of life or the promotion of abortion.” She called Becerra “unfit” for the role of HHS secretary. 
 
The narrow confirmation vote of 50-49 took place mostly along party lines, with Democrats in support and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine being the only Republican to cross the aisle and support Becerra's confirmation; one Democrat did not vote.
 
Prior to the confirmation vote, the American Association of Prolife Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Pediatricians, the Christian Medical and Dental Association, and the Catholic Medical Association wrote the Senate warning that Becerra would bring about an “unprecedented assault” on conscience rights. “Based upon the review of his voting record in the U.S. House of Representatives and his service as Attorney General of the state of California, we believe that Mr. Becerra will continue to vigorously promote not only elective abortion up to and including at the time of birth, but also the acceptance of infanticide when infants are born alive during failed abortion procedures,” the letter read.
 
Biden’s nominee for Assistant Secretary of HHS, Dr. Rachel Levin, a transgender woman was also confirmed by the Senate and becomes the first transgender federal official to serve in an administration.
 

“Catholics for Choice” Asks Biden to Say the Word ‘Abortion’


During an interview on RePROS Fight Back,the president of the pro-abortion organization calling itself “Catholics for Choice” spoke glowingly of President Biden’s Catholic faith and his support for abortion and called on him to promote abortion in the name of Catholic social justice. She described the president as “America’s very first pro-choice practicing Catholic president” and said that she believes that this “is an opportunity for a person of faith to promote and protect reproductive health and rights. President Biden’s Catholic faith informs much of the administration’s policy, and Catholics for Choice calls on President Biden to state that abortion access is also a value grounded in Catholic social justice.”
 
The group is displeased by what it describes as a “hesitancy” by the president and his administration to use the word ‘abortion’ and are asking that President Biden say the word ‘abortion’ when he gives his state of the union address. They believe that Biden saying the word abortion “could counteract the harmful effects of the bishops, who just want to create a taboo around it” and that Biden’s use of the word abortion is “such an important way of de-stigmatizing the issue” that can “show that this can be a social justice value.”
 
The organization says that it seeks to empower Catholic elected officials serving at all levels of government “to speak and say, I am Catholic, and I am opposed to these restrictions on abortion”. It is opposed to what is claims is “conservative Catholics controlling the narrative” and wants to see “not just Catholics” but any person of faith speak out in favor of abortion.
Defending Life

U.S.: Wave of Pro-Life Laws on State Level


Pro-abortion organizations are voicing concern about the number of pro-life laws passed by states in the U.S. According to Planned Parenthood's president and CEO, Alexis McGill Johnson, "This legislative season is shaping up to be one of the most hostile in recent history for reproductive health and rights. These abortion restrictions are about power and control over our bodies."
 
News coverage of a Planned Parenthood/Guttmacher Institute report states that so far in 2021 compared to the same time in 2019: Medication abortion restrictions and bans have tripled; Pro-life constitutional amendments have more than tripled; and twelve abortion restrictions have been enacted this year, compared with only one this time in 2019.
 
As abortion methods have increasingly moved away from surgical abortion to use of abortion-inducing drugs, states are enacting regulations that address non-surgical abortion, estimated to now make up over a third of abortions in the U.S.
 
It is believed that the attempt last year by American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and attorney generals led by California’s then attorney general Xavier Becerra, challenging the Food and Drug Administration’s regulation requiring that the drug mifepristone—one of two pills used in RU 486 abortion— be dispensed only in clinics or doctor's offices, disallowing pick up at pharmacies or by mail, led to the current flurry of state laws aided by the Supreme Court’s January ruling reinstating the FDA regulation.
 
A number of states enacting new pro-life laws hope to take challenges to their laws to the U.S. Supreme Court as part of a “incremental” strategy to overturn Roe V. Wade motivated by Justice Amy Coney Barrett's appointment as the sixth conservative vote on the Supreme Court and by President Joe Biden's actions reversing pro-life protections enacted during the Trump administration.
 

U.K.: MPs Hear Evidence on Dangers of Abortion Pill Use


The All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group (APPG) hosted a webinar on how DIY home abortion is putting women at risk. The focus was on the practice of ‘telemed’ abortions which have been allowed in the U.K. during the pandemic and which are under review for possible continued use.
 
According to Right to Life UK“Since March 2020, using the COVID-19 lockdowns as justification, the English, Welsh and Scottish Governments approved temporary measures to permit early medical abortions (before 10 weeks in England and Wales and before 12 weeks in Scotland) to take place at home, outside of a clinical setting. This is one of the largest changes to abortion law in Britain since 1967 and was done without parliamentary scrutiny or public consultation.”

“Following a consultation with a registered medical practitioner over the phone or video (e.g. Facetime/Skype), both sets of abortion pills (one mifepristone/six misoprostol) can be sent by post or picked up from a clinic, so the woman or girl can effectively perform a ‘DIY’ (do-it-yourself) abortion at home.” 
 
Experts testifying included Kevin Duffy, a former Global Director of Clinics Development at abortion provider Marie Stopes International (now MSI Reproductive Choices) who highlighted the serious medical risks and safety concerns arising from DIY abortions. He provided evidence that there is massive underreporting of medical complications arising from DIY abortions. Data obtained from Freedom of Information Requests “demonstrates a complication rate five times higher” than that officially reported.
 
He described that the data for DIY or ‘medical abortion’ shows that “every month, 495 women attended hospital with complications arising from retained products of conception (RPOC) after a medical abortion. Every month, 250 women after using the abortion pills, required hospital treatment to surgically remove retained products of conception (ERPC)”. 
 
Also presenting was Dr. Calum Miller, research associate at the University of Oxford specializing in abortion policy, who discussed the problem of coercion and abuse facilitated by DIY abortions. He explained how the lack of direct medical supervision during ‘telemed’ abortion is a significant threat to the substantial minority of women who undergo forced abortion in breach of their human rights, often as a result of sexual abuse. Coerced abortion is a concern as is the use of abortion pills past the legal limit of ten weeks gestation.
 
The U.K. has closed its consultations on whether or not to make DIY abortion a permanent part of U.K. abortion law once the two year temporary measure expires. Its findings will be released later this year.
 
Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “The data on this cruel experiment on women, not to mention their babies, are in: DIY at-home abortions are dangerous both medically and socially, being open to serious abuse and coercion. Indeed, these same arguments were made before the introduction of this abortion scheme and, sadly, have proven to be correct”. 
 
“As Mr Duffy and Dr Miller unambiguously show, DIY abortions are dangerous and can easily result in unwanted abortions. There is no guarantee about who actually takes the abortion drugs; there are no in-person checks on the gestation of the baby, and it is very difficult to reliably assess whether or not the woman is being forced into doing something she does not want to do”. 
 
“In the light of all these dangers, only an ideologue committed to expanding access to abortion regardless of the consequences, or those who stand to make a profit from the widespread proliferation of abortion, would even dream of making DIY abortion a permanent feature of law in the UK”. 
Pro-Abortion Actions

U.S. House Passes Abortion-Friendly ERA Ratification Extension


The U.S. House passed a resolution supported by President Biden to again extend the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) deadline by a 222-204, on a largely party-line vote. The ERA prohibits sex discrimination stating: “Equality of rights under law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex”. It was passed by Congress in 1972 with a deadline of 1979 for 38 states to pass. The deadline was extended to 1982 but still lacked ratification by three more states needed to amend the constitution. The new push for ratification suffered a defeat in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia earlier this year when a judge ruled against new state ratifications by three states determining that they “came after both the original and extended deadlines that Congress attached to the ERA.”
 
During debate, Congressional Pro-Life Caucus Chair Rep Chris Smith argued“Pro-abortion leaders have largely ignored, trivialized or denied the fact that activists plan to aggressively use the federal ERA as currently written in a litigation strategy to overturn all pro-life laws and policies including restrictions supported by huge majorities of Americans.” The general argument is that since abortion applies only to women, any laws regulating abortion are inherently discriminatory if the same regulations or requirements are not imposed upon medical procedures that are apply to men only or that apply to both men and women.
 
The National Organization for Women has made ratifying the amendment a top priority “because equality in pay, job opportunities, political structure, education, health care, including reproductive health care, and education will remain elusive without a guarantee in the U.S. Constitution.”
 
Pro-life Rep. Jackie Walorski said it “is not about equality or women’s rights” but it is “about enshrining unrestricted abortion in the Constitution and allowing full taxpayer funding for abortion. That’s why I voted no. Now is not the time to weaken pro-life protections. Now is the time to defend the unborn and uphold the sanctity of life.”
 
Archbishop Naumann, chair of the bishops’ pro-life committee, Archbishop Coakley, chair of the bishops’ domestic justice committee, and Bishop Konderla chair of the bishops’ subcommittee on marriage sent a letter to Members of Congress warning that “abortion advocates in recent years have freely admitted that they intend to use the ERA” to argue against abortion restrictions “such as third-trimester or partial birth abortion bans, parental consent, informed consent, conscience-related exemptions, and other provisions.”
 
The letter also warned that the amendment would hinder “the ability of churches and other faith-based organizations to obtain and utilize conscience protections whenever there is a claimed conflict with the sexual nondiscrimination norms that the ERA would adopt.” 
 
The Senate must now decide if it will attempt to hold a vote on the measure.

Legislation to Allow Direct Global Funding of Abortion


The Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act (H.R 1670)—to amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to authorize the use of funds for comprehensive reproductive health care services, and for other purposes—was reintroduced in the U.S. House by Rep. Jan Schakowsky. The Act would permanently eliminate the Helms Amendment which prevents U.S. foreign assistance funds from being used to pay for abortions as a method of family planning. The legislation has prevented U.S. taxpayer dollars from funding global abortions in its foreign assistance since authored by Sen. Jesse Helms and passed by the Senate in 1973. The Helms Amendment “prohibits the use of foreign assistance to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortion”.
 
The exact text is not yet available but it is believed that it would amend the permanent authorizing statue of the Foreign Assistance Act to: “Affirm that the United States should work to end unsafe abortion and promote safe abortion care by providing funding to and collaborating with affected governments and service providers.”
 
According to sponsor Rep. Schakowsky, “The time has come. Abortion is health care and the Helms Amendment now has got to go.” Last year, she introduced the Act which was the first that the Helms Amendment had been challenged in the nearly fifty years it has existed.
 
Pro-abortion organizations are working to gain support for the bill which has 145 Democrat cosponsors.
 
The president of CHANGE (the Center for Health and Gender Equity) explained its and other pro-abortion organizations’ support stating, “The Abortion is Healthcare Everywhere Act is a crucial step in dismantling neo-colonialism and racism in our U.S. foreign policy.” She added that “removing Helms would serve as an opportunity for the United States to play catch-up when it comes to its leadership in the realm of sexual and reproductive health and rights. People all over the world cannot afford for the U.S. government to turn its back on them. We look to Biden and to Congress to pass the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act and repeal the Helms Amendment immediately.”
 

EP Takes Aim at U.S. Christian and Pro-Life Groups Active in Europe


A joint committee hearing was held in the European Parliament (EP) by the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality and the Special Committee on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the European Union, including Disinformation titled “Foreign interference on the financing of anti-choice organisations in the EU”
 
The chair of the Special Committee on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the European Union, including Disinformation, Raphaël Glucksmann from the Socialist Party, explained the scope of the hearing: “The issue we will be addressing is extremely serious. It concerns our core beliefs and values. The rights for women to make decisions over their own bodies are challenged by very powerful campaigns all across Europe. Russian and American actors have invested a lot in these campaigns in order to push for a general ban of abortion. These interferences must stop.”
 
In his opening, he charged that U.S. pro-life groups active in Ireland during the vote on the abortion referendum were guilty of “destabilizing democracy” in Ireland. He also said, “Interferences in our democratic life do not concern only our electoral processes, they also aim at influencing ideological and ethic debates in our societies.” But the hearing only targeted groups holding a view in favor of protecting the lives of children in the womb from abortion. Pro-abortion organizations in Europe were not subjected to the same criticism and scrutiny, no matter who their donors are.
 
One of the pro-life groups targeted, the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ), said that the hearing was in advance of a vote in May on a radical pro-abortion resolution that states that some countries "still have laws prohibiting abortion except in strictly defined circumstances . . . is a violation of human rights and a form of gender-based violence." The EP is also expected to publish a report against pro-life organizations. 
 
Grégor Puppinck, Director General of ECLJ, explained that the second goal of the attack is “to exclude conservative organizations from European political life by presenting them as ‘dangerous for democracy and contrary to the values of the EU’. This goal is being pursued jointly by the IPPF, the Gates Foundation, George Soros' Open Society and its subsidiary Open Democracy, which are simultaneously ‘countering opposition’ to abortion, tracking down conservative groups and attacking their reputation.”
 
Puppinck explained that the organizations being criticized were not invited to participate in the hearing during which harmful attacks were made against them by biased individuals associated with the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Open Democracy, and the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Health. The latter receives funding from the European Commission, IPPF, U.S. based Gates Foundation, George Soros, Hewlett Foundation, Nike Foundation, and Mac Arthur Foundation— to name a few of its donors—while its Secretary Neil Datta attacked pro-life organizations in Europe for the financial support they receive from organizations in the U.S. Groups coming under scrutiny included Alliance Defending Freedom, World Youth Alliance, Heritage Foundation, and the Federalist Society.
 
Also testifying against pro-life organizations as a so-called expert was reporter Claire Provost from OpenDemocracy who authored a recent attack on pro-life organizations helping women reverse the abortive action of abortion pills.
Focus on the United Nations

Top UN and U.S. Officials Declare Support for Abortion at CSW


The 65th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) took place virtually at the UN with the theme “Women's full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”. The speeches from top UN and U.S. officials left no doubt that access to abortion—by any name including reproductive health, reproductive health service, bodily autonomy or bodily integrity—is a priority in respective plans to achieve gender equality and empowerment.
 
In his virtual townhall with NGOs, UN Secretary Antonio Guterres addressed the challenges of the pandemic and informed the NGOs of his support for abortion as a reproductive health service stating, “We have stressed that sexual and reproductive health services are essential and must be fully operational and accessible, even in a pandemic.” He called for governments to “realize women’s equal rights by repealing all discriminatory laws and enacting positive measures.” Laws against have abortion are considered “discriminatory” since they only apply to women.
 
The Executive Director of UNFPA, Dr. Natalia Kanem, stated in her remarks to the UNFPA sponsored CSW side event "Bodily Autonomy and SRHR for Generation Equality: What kind of leadership is needed?" that “bodily autonomy is the foundation for gender equality.” She said that only when a woman can make her own health care choices regarding her body can she exercise her rights and have political and economic power. In her conclusion, she expressed hope that action would follow CSW to ensure that women’s bodily autonomy is respected and protected everywhere.
 
UNFPA tweeted about the event: “Join the conversation about the urgent need to protect bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights.”
 
“We aim to rally governments and civil society around the centrality of women bodily autonomy for achieving gender equality and the sustainable development goals.”
 
During the U.S. virtual event hosted by the U.S. State Department and the Office of Global Women’s Issues— Prioritizing Women and Girls in the #COVID19 Response—U.S. UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield lamented the negative impact of COVID on women and girls including that it has “eroded women’s and girls’ access to sexual and reproductive health.”
 
Jennifer Klein, Co-Chair and Executive Director of the White House Gender Policy Council, stated that access to sexual and reproductive health was a priority for her office.
 
The CSW meeting was considered “an important bridge” to the Generation Equality Forum, organized by UN Women and co-hosted by France and Mexico described as being “a pivotal opportunity to change our societies and cement women’s leadership as we recover from COVID-19.” The Forum kicked-off in Mexico City with another forum on June 30- July 2 in Paris. “Bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)” is one of its six themes.
 
The outcome document from CSW included a call to ensure “universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development” and recognized that “the human rights of women include their right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on all matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence, as a contribution to the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women and the realization of their human rights.” The Programme of Action respects the right of sovereignty stating: “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.”
Focus on the OAS

Inter-American Court: Case Could Decriminalize Abortion and Infanticide


The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is considering a case referred by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights and other pro-abortion NGOs, which at its center is an attempt to force El Salvador to implement criminal law ‘reforms’ that would allow access to abortion and also prevent the country from prosecuting violent crimes against infanticide.
 
The main pro-abortion argument in Manuela V. El Salvador claims that Manuela suffered an ‘obstetric emergency’ that resulted in ‘pregnancy loss’ and she was unjustly found guilty of aggravated homicide and sent to prison where she subsequently died from cancer. The case seeks damages for her family and changes to El Salvador’s criminal code. However, Manuela’s conviction by a Salvadorian court included evidence that the baby’s umbilical cord had been ripped from his body and that he was thrown into a latrine where he died from suffocation and bleeding from the navel.
 
The Court rejected “for procedural reasons”, a request from El Salvador to allow testimony about the child’s autopsy from Dr. Alfredo Romero Díaz, a chief forensic medical doctor who would have spoken about the child’s live birth and death while allowing all of the plaintiffs’ and Commission’s witnesses regardless of procedural objections. El Salvador is one of three countries in Central America and 24 worldwide with a total abortion ban. Its Constitution recognizes "every human being as a human person from the moment of conception."
 
Pro-life leader Julia Regina de Cardenal, president of the Sí a la Vida Foundation of El Salvador, explained that "the Manuela case was born as part of the 'Las 17' campaign, created by national and international pro-abortion groups." The objective of the campaign is "to manipulate public opinion to achieve the legalization of abortion in El Salvador." She explained that the pro-abortion groups have used the cases of 17 women convicted of aggravated homicide, but about whom the groups spread the false narrative that they were imprisoned for miscarriages, despite the evidence which "shows that the babies were stabbed, stoned, strangled, and dumped in septic tanks."
 
She stated that "the reality is that Manuela arrived at the hospital where it was discovered that she had given birth and when asked where the child was, she claimed that she did not know that she had given birth.” The infant boy was found wrapped in a cloth, dead in a latrine.
 
Ave Maria School of Law professor Ligia De Jesus Castaldi warns, “Decriminalization of infanticide seems to be the next frontier in pro-abortion advocacy, both nationally and internationally.” She co-authored an amicus curie in the Manuela case which states that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in sending the case to the Court seeks to order El Salvador to carry out criminal law “reforms” that “would inhibit prosecution of suspected infanticide and abortion cases, and subsequent reforms to promote impunity for infanticide and legalization of abortion in its jurisdiction, which the commission demands be done via executive order, without the usual legislative checks that the lawmaking process normally requires.”
 
Twenty-nine pro-life and human rights organizations signed the brief asking the Court to rule in favor of El Salvador. Organizations accredited before the Organization of American States, and others, signed the brief including Priests for Life, the International Solidarity and Human Rights Institute, and World Youth Alliance. They request that the Court “find in favor of El Salvador and reject the Inter-American Commission’s request for criminal reform that would inhibit or prevent prosecution of homicidal crimes against children as a vehicle to legalize abortion in the country.”
 
According to Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, the organization brought the case to ensure that women and girls “have the necessary legal guarantees to reproductive autonomy and access reproductive health services” [in other words, access to abortion].  She continued, “A total ban on abortion further develops a culture of systemic discrimination and gender-based violence, as it disproportionately impacts women in vulnerable situations and encourages the criminalization of their reproductive processes.” 
 
The next steps will be the presentation of final written arguments and the sentence, which could be issued in the next session of the Court to be held April 19- May 13, 2021.
Legislative News

Malawi: MPs Say No to Abortion Bill


MPs in Malawi rejected debate on a bill to legalize abortion. The bill would have eased restrictions on abortion in the country, which currently only permits abortion in cases where it could save the mother’s life. Church leaders strongly opposed the bill, which was first introduced five years ago. The bill’s sponsor vows to present it again in the coming months.

Tasmania: Legislature Votes for Assisted Suicide


Tasmania’s House of Assembly approved the End of Life Choices Bill, legalizing assisted suicide in the province. The vote came after a week filled with amendments and debates on the contentious legislation, including provisions to permit the use of telehealth appointments, limiting assisted suicide to those given a terminal diagnosis with six months to live, and a clause to permit conscientious objection, which failed to pass. The bill now goes to the upper house, where it is expected to pass. 

Northern Ireland: Bill to Ban Abortions for Disabilities Passes Second Stage


The Northern Ireland Assembly has advanced a bill to prohibit abortion for disabilities. The Severe Fetal Impairment Abortion (Amendment) Bill would amend the abortion law imposed upon Northern Ireland by the UK in 2020 that permits abortion for babies with disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip, and club foot. The bill passed its second stage in the Assembly by a vote of 48 to 12. During debate, MLAs gave passionate speeches about the inherent value of people with disabilities, featuring the stories of families in their districts. Disability rights campaigner Heidi Crowter, who has Down’s syndrome, earlier this month told the Assembly’s Health Committee that the current law “tells me and other people with Down’s syndrome that we are worth less than those without disabilities.” The legislation now proceeds to the Committee stage.  

India: Upper Parliament Approves Abortion on Demand up to 24 Weeks


India’s upper parliament voted to expand abortion on demand for up to 24 weeks. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment, which amends the country’s 1971 law banning abortions after 20 weeks. In recent years, courts have been deciding on exceptions for abortion on a case-by-case basis. The approved language specifies abortions for “therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian and social” reasons and creates state-level boards to consider requests for late term abortions. India’s lower house passed a similar bill last year.

Canada: House of Commons Approves Euthanasia for the Mentally Ill


The House of Commons approved a bill permitting euthanasia for the mentally ill. The approved Bill C-7 gives the mentally ill access to the country’s medical aid in dying (MAiD) system. Advocates for the disabled, mentally ill, addicted, and opponents of euthanasia all criticized the bill. “While many people with disabilities cannot access the disability-related supports that they need to live dignified lives in the community, they will be able to get MAiD. Even people experiencing a mental health crisis will have access to MAID,” said a statement from the Council of Canadians with Disabilities“We are extremely concerned that people with disabilities experiencing a temporary crisis will accept MAiD and die needlessly,” said the council’s spokesperson. The bill, which passed by a vote of 189-140, now goes to the Senate for a vote.  
Executive News

New Zealand: Ministry of Health Seeks to Expand Abortion Services


New Zealand’s Ministry of Health is looking for ways to make access to abortion easier. Following the legalization of abortion last year, the Ministry of Health now oversees abortion services. Associate Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall says improvements have been made to accessing early abortions, especially through the use of abortion-inducing drugs, but wants to find ways to ensure delivery is available to other populations, particularly the Māori, Pacific, and disabled people. The ministry is looking to partner with youth, community and school-based groups.
Judicial News

Portugal: Court Blocks New Euthanasia Law


Portugal’s Constitutional Court blocked a law legalizing euthanasia, stating that the law is imprecise. The new law passed by parliament was sent to court for evaluation by request of the president. The judges voted to reject the law in a vote of 7-5. The court’s decision said that a law on euthanasia must be “clear, precise, clearly envisioned and controllable,” and that the current law failed to be so.

Peru: Court Rules “Yes” to Request for Euthanasia


A Peruvian court has granted a woman’s request to die by assisted suicide, a first for the country. Anna Estrada Ugarte, who is largely paralyzed from polio, petitioned the court to end her life via euthanasia. The court ruled that the health ministry and social health insurance need to respect her wish “to end her life through the technical procedure of euthanasia.” Failing to do so, said the court, would be a violation of “dignity, autonomy, free choice” and could constitute “cruel and inhuman treatment.” The court’s decision, notably historic in the pro-life country, is likely to be challenged. 

 
 
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In this Issue

 
Focus on the United States
Biden State Department to Track Countries Access to Abortion
President Biden Signs $1.9 Trillion Relief Bill with No Pro-Life Funding Protection
Biden Administration Expresses Support for Abortion Worldwide at the UN
Senate Confirms Biden’s Radical Nominees to Oversee Health
“Catholics for Choice” Highlights Catholic Biden’s Pro-Abortion Stand
 
Defending Life
Wave of Pro-Life Laws on U.S. State Level
U.K.: MPs Hear Evidence on Dangers of Abortion Pill Use
 
Pro-Abortion Actions
U.S.: House Passes Abortion-Friendly ERA Ratification Extension
U.S.: Legislation to Allow Direct Global Funding of Abortion
EP Takes Aim at U.S. Christian and Pro-Life Groups Active in Europe
 
Focus on the United Nations
Top UN and U.S. Officials Declare Support for Abortion at CSW
 
Focus on the OAS
Inter-American Court: Case Could Decriminalize Abortion and Infanticide
 
Legislative News
Malawi: MPs Say No to Abortion Bill 
Tasmania: Legislature Votes for Assisted Suicide
Northern Ireland: Bill to Ban Abortions for Disabilities Passes Second Stage
India: Upper Parliament Approves Abortion on Demand up to 24 Weeks
Canada: House of Commons Approves Euthanasia for the Mentally Ill
 
Executive News
New Zealand: Ministry of Health Seeks to Expand Abortion Services
 
Judicial News
Portugal: Court Blocks New Euthanasia Law
Peru: Court Rules “Yes” to Request for Euthanasia