New WHO and OHCHR Report Calls for Repeal of Laws against Abortion
Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A report launched at the World Health Assembly by the High-Level Working Group for Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents–-Leading the Realization of Human Rights To Health and Through Health—is a blatant pro-abortion activist document disguised as a UN report that tells parliamentarians and governments to advance access to abortion in the context of human rights. It seeks to go where the Sustainable Development Goals could not go due to a lack of consensus—universal access to abortion.

Co-chair of the High-Level Working Group for Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents, Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland quoted from the report’s Executive Summary during the launch: “The realization of human rights in the context of sexual and reproductive health, including access to safe abortion – is not only seriously uneven or unattainable at the country-level, it is under direct attack, risking the reversal of hard-won advances in preventable maternal and child mortality and undermining the health of adolescents worldwide.” 

According to press reports following its formation, the High Level Working Group is a “landmark initiative convened by WHO and OHCHR whose purpose is to enhance implementation of health and human rights at national and global levels and strengthen accountability for women, children and adolescents.” The Working Group derives its members and advisors mainly from pro-abortion donor countries, academia and organizations.

The Working Group was co-convened by Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General, World Health Organization and Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights. Gilmore is the former Deputy Executive Director of UNFPA and was Executive Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International when in 2007 it adopted a pro-abortion position. Bustero wrote in the Huffington Post Women Need To Control Their Health To Control Their Futures­ about her attendance at the “She Decides” conference in Brussels which sought to raise money for pro-abortion NGOs following President Trump’s reissuing of the Mexico City Policy. She states: This gathering comes at a time when the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls are facing a stark challenge, and we risk losing important hard-won recent advances. Reduced funding for women’s sexual and reproductive health is a loss not only to these women, but also to their communities and society as a whole.

The instructions in the report are meant to apply to all countries regardless of the legal status of abortion and are filled with pro-abortion references to recommendations issued by activist members of UN treaty monitoring bodies and arguments from pro-abortion NGOs to justify its attempt to advance access to legal abortion as a human right. While exhibiting disregard and contempt for sovereign laws against abortion, the report fails to acknowledge that an overwhelming majority of UN Member States restrict or ban abortion because they recognize the right to life of children, the first human right, begins in the womb.

The report reduces opposition to the destruction of the lives of unborn children to a ‘sensitivity’ and labels it ‘discrimination’: Legal or statutory provisions that impede access to so-called “sensitive” services, such as sexual and reproductive health services, including comprehensive sexuality education, family planning and safe abortion, must be addressed. Harmful gender, social and cultural norms that restrict access to sexual and reproductive health services are themselves forms of discrimination.

Governments are instructed to “Remove social, gender and cultural norms that prevent the realization of rights”; the Working Group states:

All States should implement legal, policy and other measures to monitor and address social, gender and cultural norms and to remove structural and legal barriers that undermine the human rights of women, children and adolescents. Urgent attention must be given to developing national frameworks that prohibit and adequately punish genderbased violence, end female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage, and remove barriers to the enjoyment of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

In Annex B, Human rights-related actions under the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, instructions to achieve an “Enabling environment” in the area of SDG targets 10.3, 16.2, 16.9, 16.10 and 17.18, include:

Repeal, rescind or amend laws and policies that create barriers or restrict access to health services (including sexual and reproductive health and rights services) and that discriminate, explicitly or in effect, against women, children or adolescents as such, or on grounds prohibited under human rights law. This includes repealing laws that criminalize specific sexual and reproductive conduct and decisions, such as abortion, same-sex intimacy, sex work and the delivery or receipt of sexual and reproductive health and rights information.

Enact laws and implement policies promoting positive measures to ensure that essential health services, including primary health care, sexual and reproductive health and rights services, maternal health services, mental health services, and neonatal, child and adolescent health services are available, accessible, acceptable and of good quality.

In addition, the Working Group casts abortion as a service necessary for women, children and adolescents to “enjoy” for their “mental, sexual and reproductive health” in the section ‘Building Momentum for human rights to health and through health’:

The issues set out in this report are highly relevant for all countries in all regions of the world, not least because of current threats to earlier advances in respecting and protecting women’s, children’s and adolescents’ rights, including their personal autonomy. The High-Level Working Group is convinced that committed leadership for collective action is urgently needed to safeguard the full exercise of women’s, children’s and adolescents’ human rights, including their access to comprehensive information, their rights to autonomous decision making in keeping with their age-related abilities, and their enjoyment of services necessary for their mental, sexual and reproductive health, including safe abortion services.

Parliaments are among those targeted for support:

As the implementation of Agenda 2030, including the Global Strategy, moves forward, the High-Level Working Group urges active engagement by national governments, parliaments, and community and civil society leaders. We urge all leaders to stand up for the health, dignity and human rights of all people, and to champion women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health and rights, through advocacy and activism. We call on the health and human rights communities at all levels—subnational, national, regional and international—to work together to hasten delivery of positive outcomes for women, children and adolescents. Further, we highlight the urgent need for participatory accountability mechanisms, including for access to effective remedies in cases of violations.

The Working Group expects governments to generously fund the agenda and calls for the taking of “steps to allocate at least 5% of GDP for public health spending, which is the recommended percentage for achieving Universal Health Coverage.”

Universal Health Coverage (UHC), SDG 3.8, is at the heart of pro-abortion efforts to secure funding for ‘sexual and reproductive health’. Inclusion of this agenda in UHC is a key component of the report and its concerning statement, “We know what needs doing, and how to do it. We know why we should do it. We also know it makes financial sense. What we need is more concrete and sustained political commitment and leadership.”

PNCI notes that despite the arrogance exhibited in the report, the authors do not know what needs to be done or how to do it if they propose that the killing of the next generation is acceptable and a major part of their plan.

Political commitment to protect the lives of children at all stages of development and to protect the lives of women and girls from the violence of abortion is strong around the world which is why only 60 countries allow abortion on demand.

Lawmakers who respect life at all stages are urged to exert caution in their parliaments as funding and implementation of Agenda 2030 move forward. This problematic report will next be presented to the Human Rights Council on June 13, 2017 where it will hopefully encounter opposition.