by Jonathan Abbamonte
Population Research Institute
“States across the world should act now to decriminalize abortion,” says a group of U.N. human rights experts.
A statement released last Friday by U.N. human rights experts to commemorate something called “International Safe Abortion Day” urged the international community to “guarante[e] access to safe and legal abortion.” The group further exhorted governments to take an active role in securing the availability of abortion by ensuring that women are “given more support and autonomy to undergo the procedure.”
For the past three years, U.N. human rights experts, who serve the U.N. Human Rights Council as special rapporteurs and independent experts on various human rights issues, have used “International Safe Abortion Day” as a pretext for admonishing the international community to depenalize and legalize abortion. A similar statement in 2016 had even called on all countries worldwide to legalize abortion “on request,” representing the first time a U.N. human rights body had explicitly called for the universal legalization of abortion on demand.
The statement released by U.N. human rights experts on Friday made a number of controversial claims, including an accusation that laws defending the right to life of the unborn are rooted in “discriminatory legacies supported by religious and cultural norms” and that such pro-life religious and cultural values “embody harmful stereotypes of women’s roles in the family and society.”
Similar to statements made by other U.N. human rights bodies, the group of experts asserted that the right of health care workers to conscientious objection to abortion cannot be permitted to interfere with the availability of abortion, stating that conscientious objection “cannot be a basis for denying women access to abortion.”
U.N. experts also took direct aim at pro-lifers, claiming that the ‘pro-life’ label is “misleading” and an inaccurate description of people who oppose the termination of the life of an unborn child.
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