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Opinion: 'Sorry, UN. Ireland's abortion laws are progressive, modern and compassionate'

In pushing for abortion the UN is seriously undermining its human rights mission, writes Niamh Uí Bhriain.

Niamh Uí Bhriain Spokeswoman for the Life Institute

WE ARE HEARING, with increasing regularity, that the United Nations is insisting that Ireland must legalise abortion.

Since the primary mission of the UN is to protect human rights, this seems more than a little strange because you cannot, in my view, be a genuine human rights defender while calling for some human beings to be stripped of the most fundamental right of all, the right to life.

A closer look at the reality behind the news headlines, however, makes two things abundantly clear.

No right to abortion under international human rights law

Firstly, there is no right to abortion under international human rights law. That is a fact, and a fact easily verified by looking at the UN’s human rights charters and treaties which so many countries, including Ireland, have signed up to.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights doesn’t mention abortion at all, but it does say that all human beings have a right to life. That the preborn child is a human being is a matter now long established by science. As a matter of fact, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child points out that ”the child by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”

This is what human rights treaties are designed for – to ensure that people who are most vulnerable are not denied their human rights. It’s hard to think of anyone more vulnerable than a preborn child.

The inherent right to life

Similarly, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights doesn’t say that there is a right to abortion but Article 6 protects the right to life in very strong terms, stating that ”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.”

It would seem obvious that establishing an arbitrary “right to choose” to end a preborn baby’s life would directly contradict this fundamental right as spelled out in these international treaties.

What’s happening then, is that various UN Committees – and the UN being the ultimate quango, there are many, many such committees – are putting their own personal and political interpretations on these human rights treaties to make the claim that abortion is a right, and must therefore be legalised in Ireland.

It’s worth reminding ourselves of who these committees are, and who they represent, especially when they are attacking Ireland for protecting the right to life of both mother and baby.

Are we meant to take criticism from these UN bodies seriously?

Recently, for example, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women criticised Ireland’s right-to-life 8th Amendment, a clause inserted by the people into the Constitution in a referendum, because it restricted abortion. But shortly afterwards, Saudi Arabia, a kingdom where women are not even permitted to travel, marry or drive without male permission, was elected to a UN committee on women’s rights.

Saudi Arabia already sits on the UN Human Rights Council, as, of course, does China, where forced abortions and other dreadful human rights violations occur. Yet we are meant to take criticisms from UN bodies seriously.

Last month, a UN Committee Against Torture, again attacked Ireland’s pro-life laws and even argued that the government should be working (ie spending taxpayers’ monies) on getting Irish people to support legalised abortion. It’s hard to know which is more concerning: that such an egregious manipulation of democracy was suggested, or that the suggestion was made by a supposed human rights body.

That Committee’s members came from countries like Denmark, which currently aborts 98% of its babies with Down Syndrome before birth, and from the US,  a country so fixated by abortion “rights” that it turned a blind eye to the horrifying abuses of abortion doctors like Kermit Gosnell who not only cut the spines of babies born after late-term abortions, but caused several women to die or be maimed in his filthy, but perfectly legal, abortion clinic.

These committees may argue hard to cover up the reality, but the fact remains that, for the preborn child, abortion is the ultimate human rights abuse.

The UN is failing in its mission

Which brings me to my second point: in pushing for abortion the UN is seriously undermining its human rights mission, and is, in my view failing women who deserve support and compassion, not the medieval answer of abortion.

Ireland’s laws are progressive, modern and compassionate precisely because they recognise the scientific certainty that the preborn baby is a human being, and acknowledge the mounting evidence that abortion hurts women.

If we are going to take human rights seriously, and if the UN is to maintain its credibility, then we should be working together to eliminate abortion, not increase its incidence.

Instead of criticising Ireland, the UN should follow our lead in protecting the human rights of both mother and child and seeking a better answer than abortion.

Niamh Uí Bhriain is spokeswoman for the Life Institute. 

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About the author:

Niamh Uí Bhriain  / Spokeswoman for the Life Institute

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