The United Nations Human Rights Committee is about to impose the universal legalization of abortion in the very name of the right to life.
This Committee of independent experts, in charge of monitoring the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) gathered in Geneva on the 1st and 2nd of November 2017, in order to draft its official interpretation of the right to life. This interpretation, entitled General Comment has a great authority on jurisdictions and law makers around the world, for the Committee has afterwards the power to judge States parties with regards to their implementation and respect of the treaty.
Several of the Committee’s members have seized this opportunity to promote a most extensive interpretation of the right to abortion. That was the stand taken in particular by the French member of the Committee Olivier de Frouville, the American Sarah Cleveland and the Tunisian Yadh Ben Achour. The other members remained quite silent on this issue. Only Mrs Anja Seibert-Fohr, the German expert, tried to obtain, sadly in vain, the recognition of “the legitimate interest for States parties to protect the life of the foetus”, which is yet acknowledged by the European Court of Human Rights. The three other members, known for being reluctant with the issue of abortion, were the only absents.
From the very start of the debate, M. de Frouville recommended to avoid any “philosophical or ideological consideration” but rather to focus exclusively on women’s rights. At no time in the debate, was the moral nature of abortion questioned. Similarly, at no moment were the rights of children mentioned. The Committee’s members were cautious to never employ the term “child”. According to the members of the Committee, the child does not exist before birth, therefore it would be vain to even mention his/her rights or interests.
Killing disabled foetuses as “a precautionary measure”
In fact, there was only one mention, not of children, but of “foetuses”, to recommend the legalization of their eugenic abortion. The Tunisian representative indeed insisted a lot on this necessity. He declared that though it is necessary to help disabled people “once they are born”, this doesn’t mean that “we have to accept to allow a foetus suffering with impairment to live”. He added “we must do everything we can to avoid disabilities” (see here his full intervention). At this point, the Chairman had to intervene to remind the Committee members that the debate is recorded.
But here again, the reference to the « foetus » was too explicit. In order to avoid being accused of eugenic, the members wanted to replace this word with the word “pregnancy”, seen as less offensive, just as if the change of terms could make the eugenic reality more acceptable.
Abortion is life
As for the right to abortion, the recommendations of the International Planned Parenthood have been followed literally by the Committee here. Using the motto of this organization, the Committee members have declared that abortion should be decriminalized and its access made “safe, legal and affordable”, without any real condition or limitation of time. They also adopted the organization’s argument that prohibition or difficulty to access abortion would amount to violating the women’s right to life. This led M. de Frouville to assert, in an Orwellian way, that decriminalization of abortion “is at the heart of the issue of the right to life!”
A moral regression
It is a complete moral inversion of the meaning of the right to life. It follows the materialistic thinking according to which only those with intelligence and will would be genuinely human and, hence, worthy of protection. As long as they have not reached this ability, they would just be some bodily matter under the power of those who are “human”, for able of intelligence and will. Thus, it is no more the “human life”, as a biological reality, which would be protected under international law, but intelligence and will, i.e. strength. Not once have the members of the Committee recalled the commitment made by the States to reduce the recourse to abortion and to help pregnant women. The weakness of unborn children and women in distress has a unique response: elimination. The survival of the fittest.
Yet it is mainly against eugenics that the universality of the right to life was reaffirmed in the post-war period. The drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights expressly refused to tolerate any eugenic abortion, recalling its use by the Nazi regime; it is only under the pressure of Soviet countries that they renounced in 1948 to explicitly protect human life “from conception”. It is because the Nazi and Soviet regimes were materialists that they promoted abortion and eugenics; and it is against this ideology that the United Nations were founded on the basis of the equal dignity of every human being.
If the Committee draws a right to die from the right to life, it revives the deadly ideology against which the United Nations were founded.
Another Committee of the United Nations protested against this “reactionary drift”. The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities retaliated that “Laws which explicitly allow for abortion on grounds of impairment violate the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”. It added that such laws perpetuate “notions of stereotyping disability as incompatible with a good life”. But the Human Rights Committee did not take this into account, its most active members remaining firmly committed to their objective.
An excess of power
The remaining question is whether the Committee has the power to impose on States, in the name of the Covenant, an obligation inconsistent with the explicit intention of its drafters. Against the States which reproached the Committee for acting beyond its mandate, some of its members defended themselves declaring that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is a “living document” of which they are the true interpreters. Concretely, States would thus be less required to abide by the Covenant than by what the members of the Committee say. This is particularly problematic when the interpretation is diametrically opposed to the initial meaning of the treaty. This made Mrs Seibert-Fohr say, as a warning, that the Human Rights Committee dangerously weakens “the human rights’ universality”. In fact, if this interpretation of the Covenant is adopted, numerous States will refuse to enforce it; the ideological zeal of some members of the Committee will thus inevitably backfire on its authority.
The discussion on this Draft General Comment will continue on the 10th of November and then again in March 2018; the Committee will also deal with assisted suicide and euthanasia which it considers imposing in the name of the right to life.
At the beginning of October, the ECLJ submitted to the Human Rights Committee a Memorandum in defence of the right to life, with the support of more than 130,000 persons who signed a petition for the protection of every human life.