Roughly two weeks ago on October 30, 2018, the U.N. Human Rights Committee of the United Nations in Geneva adopted a comment intended to put pressure on pro-life countries to alter their existing pro life laws. The General Comment No. 36, replaces earlier General Comments No. 6 and 14 from 1982 and 1984, respectively.
Jonathan Abbamonte of the pro-life Population Research Institute explains:
“The ICCPR is one of the most important and widely ratified international human rights treaties drafted through the U.N. system.” The reason why General Comment No. 36 is of importance, Abbamonte adds, is that its adoption “will inevitably provide pro-abortion activists in the U.N. system with sufficient grounds to place considerable pressure on pro-life countries to legalize abortion.”
What’s ironic is that Article 6 specifically states that “The right to life has crucial importance both for individuals and for society as a whole. It is most precious for its own sake as a right that inheres in every human being, but it also constitutes a fundamental right whose effective protection is the prerequisite for the enjoyment of all other human rights and whose content can be informed by other human rights.”
But then, the new comment written to replace Article 6 states that, “States parties must provide safe, legal and effective access to abortion where the life and health of the pregnant woman or girl is at risk, and where carrying a pregnancy to term would cause the pregnant woman or girl substantial pain or suffering, most notably where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or is not viable.”
The phrase “is not viable” is too vague. The document also states that countries cannot enact laws prohibiting abortion under certain circumstances, such as “rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk.” The document takes it even a step further and states that countries should not enact laws “where carrying a pregnancy to term would cause the pregnant woman or girl substantial pain or suffering.” This phrase is even more broad and could be interpreted as applicable to almost any circumstances in which a mother or father simply decided that they did not want their child, or that having a child at this stage in their life could be too much of a burden.
Additionally the comment specifies that states cannot enact pro-life laws that would “compel women and girls to resort to unsafe abortion.” This sounds remarkably similar to the phrases that Planned Parenthood propagates.
Historically, the U.N. Human Rights Committee of the United Nations has had a historically poor record defending human rights when those rights are those of the pre-born. The adoption of General Comment No. 36 replacing previous pro-life comments is a troublesome step in the wrong direction.