March for Life 2012

Thursday, December 23, 2010

High Court Says No Right to Abortion in European Law

(The following article for C-Fam)

STRASBOURG, December 23 (C-FAM) Europe’s highest human rights court says there is no human right to abortion in Europe’s human rights convention, and that abortion laws are the purview of sovereign states.
The European Court of Human Rights made the statement last week in its conclusion of “A, B, and C v. Ireland.” Three anonymous plaintiffs claimed that Ireland’s strict abortion laws violated their human rights to privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights.
The women claimed that they had traveled to Britain for abortions with the belief that they could not secure abortions in Ireland given their circumstances.
Pro-life advocates had been concerned that the court would hand down a European version of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision that interpreted the right to privacy broadly and strike down all state laws restricting abortion in any way. The European court rejected that path, but found Ireland in violation of the right to privacy in one of the three cases.
The situation involved a woman who said she was unsure what the effects of her pregnancy had on her remittent cancer, what effects medical tests would have on the unborn child, and whether an abortion would be legal in her situation.
The court found that even though article 8 on the right to privacy does not contain a right to abortion, Ireland nonetheless violated the woman’s privacy by the law’s “chilling effect” on obtaining sufficient information about her situation.
William Saunders said the court mischaracterized the Irish constitution which does not provide for a “right to abortion,” but rather it guarantees the right to life of both mother and child. The court was unduly intrusive, in effect telling doctors in Ireland when to “prescribe” abortion, Saunders said.
Critics also say that the court based their findings on the woman’s feelings of uncertainty rather than on proof that her health was at risk. If the woman needed a cycle of chemotherapy, she could have received it according to Irish law.
One senior EU official said that the facts of the case were murky because the case was never investigated for trial in Ireland. For that reason alone the court should have dismissed the case out of hand, he said, since the convention requires plaintiffs to exhaust remedies in national courts before bringing them to Strasbourg.
“While one must be glad about today’s judgment, the way the court operates today remains a reason for grave concern for anyone seriously and genuinely committed to the protection of human rights,” the official said, “But at least it did not succumb to the pressures of those who wanted it to ‘discover,’ hidden in the penumbral fringes of the convention, a ‘right to abortion’ that would oblige all EU member states to legalize the killing of the unborn.”
The court’s decision is binding only on the 47 European nations which are party to the European Convention on Human Rights and does not extend to international law outside Europe.

US Forces Vote on “Sexual Orientation” in General Assembly

(The following article us from C-Fam)

NEW YORK, December 23 (C-FAM) The United States made good on its promise to force a vote on “sexual orientation” in the General Assembly this week angering many delegations from the global south.
With support from the European Union, the Nordic countries and Canada, the US launched a massive campaign to re-insert “sexual orientation” into a UN resolution before final approval in the General Assembly. Reportedly, the US was working “at the highest levels” to push countries to support its amendment.
The US move followed in the wake of a vote in a lower level committee last month, when opponents of the “sexual orientation” language won their bid to have the language removed. The deletion of that term caught its supporters off-guard because “sexual orientation” had been included in the resolution on “Summary, Arbitrary, or Extrajudicial Executions” for the past 10 years.
The bid was successful and in a last-minute reversal, UN member states voted to reinsert of the contentious language on “sexual orientation.” An analysis of the vote shows that 23 countries, consisting mainly of small island states and countries from Latin America & the Caribbean, changed their positions from November’s vote that allowed the US motion to carry.
The fact that the US abstained from supporting the final resolution despite the passage of their amendment caused some to question the real motive of the US maneuvering.
Delegations who originally voted to remove the language reiterated concerns over the “undefined and controversial” term “sexual orientation,” citing the reality that there is “no foundation in any international legal or human rights instrument that justifies its inclusion” in the resolution.
The Islamic countries vowed that they “will continue to reject” the misinterpretation of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights treaties to include notions that were “never approved by the general membership of the UN.”
One delegation blasted the US-led attempt to reintroduce “sexual orientation” into the text as “international legal adventurism.”
South Africa, who reversed its original position to support the US amendment, took the floor to assert that propagating the issue in such a manner did nothing to help advance the “sexual orientation” cause. South Africa called for an intergovernmental process to discuss a definition of the term.
Some observers expressed deep concern that at least three delegations quoted a recent controversial speech by UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon in support of the US amendment. Ban had claimed that “sexual orientation” was part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, although that document makes no reference to the term.
President Obama applauded supporters of the US amendment. In a statement, Obama said, “While today’s adoption of an inclusive resolution is important, so too are the conversations that have now begun in capitals around the world about inclusion, equality, and discrimination.”
The high-level political pressure exerted in this resolution caps an aggressive year-long campaign by the Obama administration to push “sexual orientation” issues at the UN and domestically. On Wednesday, President Obama signed legislation that ended the ban on homosexuals from serving openly in the US military.