Abortion

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Abortion is the deliberate destruction of a child while still inside the womb of its mother. Given that life begins at conception, it is irrelevant whether the destruction of the embryo takes place at an early or late stage of the pregnancy, before or after implantation, before or after the foetus has reached the status of ‘viability’. It also is irrelevant whether the pregnancy is confirmed or whether it is only suspected.[1]

Should Abortion Be Legal?

Abortion in all cases destroys the life of an innocent and defenceless human being. A directly willed abortion can in no case and under no circumstances be justified.

Laws that “legalise” abortion or that fail to provide adequate legal protection for the life of the unborn child stand in clear contradiction to the natural law of morality. Such laws are injustice vested in a false appearance of legality. Nobody is obliged to obey them, but everyone is under a moral obligation to work towards their abolition.

Abortion on demand?

In several countries legislation allows abortion “on demand” (i.e. without any further justification) during the first stages of a pregnancy. The underlying assumption is that during those early stages of its existence the child is “not yet” a human being, or that it lacks certain qualities (such as (self)-consciousness, “viability”, the capability of feeling pain, or similar) that would make it worthy of legal protection. These assumptions are erroneous: the individual existence of a human being begins at conception, and the legal protection of a human being should not be made dependent on any accidental qualities. A legislation that allows abortion “on demand” is therefore not justifiable.

Using a concept that seems increasingly popular in contemporary legal debates, it could be said that abortion on demand is a particularly radical form of “age discrimination”: children are deprived of all legal protection because they are young.

Abortion in case of rape and incest?

A child that has been conceived as a result of rape or incest is nevertheless an innocent human being that is deserving of protection. The injustice of rape and incest in no way “compensated” or alleviated by the injustice of killing an unborn child. Rape and incest therefore do not justify abortion.

Abortion in case of the child suffering from malformation or impairment?

In many countries abortion is legal when there is reason to believe that the child will be suffering from a malformation or genetic impairment. The stated aim of such provisions is to “prevent unnecessary suffering” (either of the child affected by the impairment, or of the parents having to cope with that child). As a result, pre-natal diagnostics have been developed to track down and eliminate children with impairments before they are born. In this way more than 90% of children with Down Syndrome are killed before birth.

It is absurd to eliminate suffering through the elimination of those who suffer. Aborting children are handicapped is a perverted form of “compassion”. In reality, these abortions rather seem to take place in the interest of healthy persons who do not wish to take on responsibility for a handicapped child.

It remains that a handicapped child is as much a human being as a healthy child, just as a handicapped adult person is as much a human being as a non-handicapped person. Legislation allowing abortion on grounds of a suspected malformation or impairment is thus discrimination on grounds of disability.

The situation is further exacerbated by a lax interpretation of laws, according which even minor malformation (such as a cleft lip) provide sufficient justification for abortion.

But the slippery slope does not end there. Once it is taken for granted that babies that do not conform to the wishes of their parents may be aborted, there will be an inevitable trend towards the creation of “designer babies”. For example, recent research in the UK has revealed that many babies are aborted not because of any handicap, but for no other reason than their sex. In several countries (notably in China and India), sex-selective abortion has led to a significant gender imbalance among new-born children, with dire implications for the future. Obviously, this so-called “gendercide” is one of the worst forms of gender discrimination: it costs the lives of girls, but ultimately it will also (although they seem to be the preferred gender) severely impair the lives of boys.

Abortion in the case of the pregnancy posing a risk for the mother’s health?

In some countries abortion is legal in cases where the continuation of the pregnancy is suspected to pose a risk for the pregnant woman’s health. This is called “therapeutic abortion”.

The term is cynical and misleading. Abortion is never a “therapy”, because pregnancy is not a disease.

While in some countries the interpretation of this restriction is rather restrictive (i.e. that there must be a very serious threat for the mother’s health), other countries have a more permissive approach (the expectation that raising and educating the child will cause stress and exhaustion is sufficient to assume a “health risk” for the mother). In the latter case, “therapeutic abortion” is in all but terminology assimilated to “abortion on demand”. Ultimately, each and every pregnancy is associated with health risks for the mother, so that “therapeutic” arguments will always be easily available. It is for this reason that sweeping legal provisions allowing abortion in the case of a perceived “health risk” for the pregnant woman are morally inacceptable. If interpreted liberally, they de facto come close to allowing abortion “on demand”.

The life of one person is a greater value than the health of another person. The legalisation of so-called “therapeutic” abortion is therefore in contradiction to the principle of the equal dignity of all human persons. A directly willed abortion is therefore never legitimate in such circumstances. By contrast, if a pregnant woman requires a medical treatment that, as an unwanted collateral effect, may cause the loss of the child, it is acceptable to apply this treatment (e.g. chemotherapy against cancer).

Abortion in the case of the pregnancy posing a risk for the mother’s life?

Cases where the life of a pregnant woman can only be saved through abortion are extremely rare. In such cases where only the life of the mother or that of the child can be saved, it is, from the viewpoint of Natural Law, perfectly acceptable to save the life of the mother rather than that of the child. This is similar to the dilemma described by the classical Greek philosopher Carneades: when two shipwrecked sailors hold on to a plank that will carry only one of them, it is legitimate for each of them to push the other away. Nobody is morally obliged to sacrifice his own life, even if it may be heroic to do so.

But even here, the interpretation must be cautious. Some, for example, have argued that situations where a woman threatens to kill herself if not allowed to have abortion would constitute such a “risk for the mother’s life”[2]. But this interpretation is temerarious: in such a situation, it is not the pregnancy that poses a risk, but the mother’s attitude. And there is a risk that such suicide threats, albeit insincere, might become an easy way to circumvent a legal ban on abortion.

Conclusion

It follows from the above that abortion should be permitted only in the cases described in the precedent paragraph, i.e. where it is the only available solution to save a pregnant woman’s life.

In all other cases abortion should be prohibited and subject to efficient and dissuasive sanctions, including criminal sanctions, for all persons involved (i.e. not only the mother, but also the person performing the abortion). Civil sanctions are insufficient to provide adequate protection, given that the unborn child cannot itself take legal action and that its legal representatives (i.e. its parents) are, in the context of abortion, usually the persons against whom the child must be defended. For these reasons, it is also imperative that abortion be ex officio persecuted by the State.

While under normal circumstances it would seem sufficient to prohibit abortion by a simple law, the persistent attacks to which the unborn life is nowadays exposed make it necessary to strive for stronger protection. This might include constitutional provisions that clearly state a State’s obligation to protect or vindicate the life of unborn children[3], or international treaty law.

“Pragmatic” Arguments for and against Abortion

Both opponents and supporters of abortion often use “pragmatic” arguments to advance their respective points of view. For opponents, these include the health risks associated with abortion (in particular, the so-called Post–Abortion Syndrom, PAS) and the “demographic winter” in countries where abortion and contraception are widespread practice. For supporters, they include the risk of “overpopulation”, or the (somewhat counterintuitive) assumption that “legal” abortions are “safe”, and that, where abortion is not legal, women will in any case take recourse to illegal abortions which are unsafe and cost many lives.

It is not our purpose here to discuss each of these arguments. It is certainly true that today the world does not face any immediate risk of overpopulation – but it may well be that the widespread use of abortion and contraception, including forced abortion policy in China, have played a great role in averting this risk. However, reduced population growth inevitably leads to reduced economic growth, which might be one of the reasons for the current economic crisis.

On the other hand, it seems rather naïve to assume that “legal” abortions are always safe, or that they are much safer than illegal ones. It seems counter-intuitive to assume that a legal ban would have no effect on the incidence of abortion. It is a known fact that the statistics frequently used by pro-abortionists about the high incidence of illegal abortion (and maternal mortality caused by it) in countries where abortion is not legal are the result of gross manipulation.

The important point that needs to be made here that it is wrong to approach the issue of abortion from a “pragmatic” angle, when the ethical implications, namely that abortion means to kill a human being, are so obvious. If the embryo is a human being, which doubtlessly is the case, then there are no “pragmatic” considerations that can ever justify abortion. On the other hand, abortion would not become morally acceptable if there were no PAS and no demographic decline. There clearly is a risk of getting trapped in one’s own argument: if demographic decline is the decisive argument against abortion, then there would be no objection against legalizing abortion in countries with an extremely high population growth.

It seems therefore problematic and not to the point for opponents of abortion to use this type of arguments. Although they may seem seducing, they direct the discussion around abortion into a direction where it does not belong.

The Current Legal Situation

According to a recent survey by the abortion advocacy group “Center for Reproductive Rights”, about two thirds of the world’s countries have laws that restrict abortion.

According to that survey, 68 countries either prohibit abortion or permit it only where necessary to save the mother’s life, and another 59 countries permit abortion only when necessary to preserve the mother’s life or health. About a third of these countries also have exceptions for rape, and a few also have exceptions for incest and/or fetal impairment.[4] While not all of these 127 laws afford unborn children the full scope of appropriate legal protection, they clearly reflect a continuing recognition by the overwhelming majority of the world’s nations that unborn children deserve protection and that there is no human right to abortion.  In contrast, only 56 countries permit abortion for any reason, and only 22 of these are without restriction such as gestational period.  Another 14 countries prohibit abortion but provide exceptions for socioeconomic reasons.[5]

Assertions by pro-abortionist pressure groups[6] that access to abortion is an internationally recognized fundamental right are therefore false not only for moral reasons, but they are also demonstrably false with regard to the positive legislation currently in force and applied in a majority of States.

Nevertheless, the restrictive legislation currently in force in most countries is in most cases not sufficient by the standards set out above. Moreover, the efficiency of those laws is often impaired by lax interpretation and inadequate enforcement.

Although abortion clearly is a very severe and radical form of discrimination (in most cases related to the age of the victims, in other cases related to other suspicious grounds such as sex or disability), anti-discrimination legislation has hardly ever be used to fight abortion. The problem mainly seems to consist in the fact that anti-discrimination laws usually require discrimination victims to themselves file charges. Given that instances where a baby survives an attempted abortion are very rare (in some countries it is in such cases even possible to kill the baby extra utero!), this is nearly impossible. There is thus also a lack of enforcement in regard to anti-discrimination laws, which, in theory, would outlaw abortion.

International Treaty Law

In recent years, various UN Treaty monitoring bodies have come forward with temerarious re-interpretations of the international treaties that have been entrusted to them, pretending that an implicit “right to abortion” lay somewhere hidden in those treaties. Those interpretations are false and pretentious, and rather than providing credibility to any claim that abortion is a human right they undermine the credibility of the institutions and persons making them. It has been clearly demonstrated that those deliberately false interpretations of international treaty laws can be traced back to a meeting that took place at Glen Cove in 1996 behind closed doors, to which the UN bureaucracy had invited the representatives of those treaty monitoring bodies as well as representatives of various pro-abortionist lobby groups to discuss “Human rights approaches to women’s health, with a focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights”[7]. As it emerged later, the main focus of that meeting was to promote a radical re-interpretation of UN Treaty Law, given that attempts undertaken during the UN Conferences on Population (Cairo, 1994) and Women (Beijing, 1995) to make the international community agree on texts in which abortion was explicitly mentioned as a human right had failed.

Since that time, the UN treaty monitory bodies have become the source of pervasive attempts to manipulate the international treaties that are entrusted to them. They criticize individual countries for having “too restrictive” and issue “General Recommendations” in which it is asserted that legislation criminalizing abortion should be repealed.[8]

It should be noted in this context that the reports and comments of those bodies have no binding effect. If inaptly drafted, such reports and comments undermine the credibility and authority of those drafting them, which is what we currently see happening. It should also be noted that the members of those bodies are appointed under rather opaque procedures, and that many of them have rather poor academic records. Those bodies cannot be considered an authoritative source of interpretation for the treaties concerned, but – despite having no mandate to do so – they act as political bodies with an agenda of their own.

The correct interpretation of relevant UN Human Rights treaties, in line with the interpretative rules set out in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, is as follows:

Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR):

Article 3 of the UDHR recognizes that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” No specific provision is made with regard to abortion. However, given the fact that the unborn child is, from the moment of conception onwards, an individual human being that is different from its mother, there can be no reasonable doubt that it must be included in “everyone”.

Even if there were reasonable doubts with regard to the status of the unborn child (quod non), a precautionary principle would impose an interpretation that includes the unborn child under “everyone”, rather than running the risk of depriving a human being of its right to life.

The exclusion of the unborn child from the protection granted under Art 3 UDHR would seem legitimate only if there were certitude that it is not a human being. But such certitude does not exist.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR):

Article 6 of the ICCPR recognizes that “every human being has the inherent right to life”.

The ICCPR goes beyond the UDHR in providing two important clarifications.

Firstly, it recognizes that “this right shall be protected by law”. This means that the State must not only itself abstain from violating this right, but it must take adequate measures to protect others from doing so. This is of particular importance in the context of abortion.

Secondly, the ICCPR foresees (in Art. 6.5) that “sentence of death … shall not be carried out on pregnant women”. While the Convention does not as such exclude the possibility of capital punishment for serious crimes, it does exclude the execution of pregnant women. The obvious reason is that the Convention recognizes that the unborn child is a different person than its mother, that it is innocent, and that it is the bearer of its own right to life.

It is therefore logically impossible to interpret Art. 6 ICCPR as not prohibiting abortion, or, even more important, as not imposing on States an obligation to protect the unborn child against abortion.

Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW):

Article 12 of the CEDAW runs thus:

“1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning.

2. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph I of this article, States Parties shall ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.”

It is this provision that has been interpreted by the UN CEDAW Committee as implying that “legislation criminalizing abortion should be amended, in order to withdraw punitive measures imposed on women who undergo abortion”.[9]

As one can easily see, this temerarious interpretation has absolutely no basis in the text, given that:

  • the text makes no explicit reference to abortion;
  • it is generally recognized that abortion is not a legitimate means of family planning[10]; and
  • it would be absurd to interpret CEDAW in a way that stands in open contradiction to the ICCPR (see above).

The Right to Health, even in its “feminist” version (i.e. that set out in CEDAW), therefore does not include any right to abortion.

Regional Human Rights Treaties

European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

The ECHR is unique among the world’s Human Rights Instruments because it is endowed with a binding enforcement mechanism. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) cannot order a State to change its legislation or administrative practice, but it can condemn a State to pay compensation to victims of human rights abuses. If a State is repeatedly found guilty of the same type of abuses, these compensation payments may increase. Generally, States respect the judgments of the ECtHR.

Article 2 of the ECHR, using similar language as the UDHR and the ICCPR, recognizes that “everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law”. However, there is no particular provision comparable to Art. 6.5 of the ICCPR to protect the life of the unborn. This notwithstanding, and for the reasons already set out with regard to the UDHR and the ICCPR, it is clear that a correct reading of Art 2 ECHR would grant full protection to children before birth.

Lamentably, the case law of the ECtHR (and the European Commission of Human Rights, EComHR) falls short of effectively granting that protection – a circumstance that reveals the weaknesses of this institution. When the first countries began to legalize abortion, it was reasonable to expect that the institutions monitoring the application of the Convention would find that this was incompatible with the State Parties’ obligation to protect the right to life.  But strangely the Commission and the Court have, under varying pretexts, always avoided taking such a position:

  • In Paton v. the UK, the applicant argued that his wife should be prevented from aborting the foetus based on the foetus’ right to life. But the EComHR argued that the foetus’ (potential) right to life did not outweigh the interests of the woman, since it “is intimately connected with, and cannot be separated from, the life of the pregnant woman”. This does not go as far as saying that the foetus has no right to life, but it subordinates the right to life of one human being to the “interests” of another, without even making an attempt to define those interests. It is obvious that the EComHR obeyed the spirit of the day rather than the words of the Convention, and that both its reasoning and its conclusions were erroneous. However, from that decision onwards the ECHR has remained completely ineffective when it comes to protecting the life of the unborn.
  • In Boso v. Italy, the ECtHR held that a law that allowed abortion under the pretext of “protecting the pregnant woman’s physical or mental health” was not in breach of Article 2, but that “such provisions strike a fair balance between, on the one hand, the need to ensure protection of the foetus and, on the other, the woman’s interests”. Strangely, the reference is not to the foetus’ right to life, but to the need to protect the foetus (which, in the Court’s view, is important, but apparently not primordial). Once more, there is no clear statement that the foetus has no right to life, but only a wobbly statement that renders this right theoretical and ineffective.
  • In Vo v. France, the applicant was a woman who had suffered miscarriage due to a doctor’s malpractice and who complained that the doctor had not been subject to criminal persecution. Yet once again, the ECtHR avoided taking a position on whether the foetus had a right to life under Article 2, saying that even if the foetus had a right to life, a State Party could in such a case discharge its obligation of protecting it through other means than criminal sanctions. The decision is also noteworthy for the fact that, for the first time, the Court made the protection of Article 2 contingent on a human being’s status as “a person” (rather than simply a human being). At the same time, it stated that it was “neither necessary nor desirable” to determine who can claim to be a “person”. The paradox is glaring: on the one hand, a human being’s entitlement to human rights is made dependent on its status as a “person”, but on the other hand the Court finds it “not desirable” (!!!) to determine who is, and who is not, such a “person”. In this way, the Court abticated its role as a guardian of human rights and opened the door to the most frivolous misinterpretations not only of Article 2, but of the ECHR as a whole, given that most of its provisions relate to “persons” rather than “human beings”.

It clearly results from these decisions that the ECtHR is in a dilemma: it would be outrageously absurd (and thus detrimental to the Court’s own standing) to openly assert that the embryo has no right to life. On the other hand, the open acknowledgement that the foetus is a human being and, by consequence, a holder of a right to life would outlaw the abortion laws and practice of nearly the totality of the 47 signatory states. The Court does not appear to have the courage that such a statement would require.

The ECtHR’s regrettable failure to protect the right to life of the unborn child has encouraged pro-abortion groups to use the Court as a forum for a frivolous activity called “strategic litigation”, claiming that, rather than a right to life for the unborn child, the Convention contains (at least under certain circumstances) a right for women to have abortion. It is lamentable that the Court gives any consideration to these manifestly ill-founded claims, rather than dismissing them a limine. This notwithstanding, the “strategic litigation” so far has not been crowned by success:

  • In Tysiac v. Poland, the applicant claimed that her right to privacy (Article 8 of the Convention) had been violated by the fact that the law did not allow her to have access to abortion when she believed that the continuation of her pregnancy might endanger her eyesight. Although the Court did criticize Poland for the fact that no formal procedures were available to challenge a doctor’s assessment that there was no danger to the pregnant woman’s health that might justify an abortion under the applicable domestic law, it also stated that the Convention did not contain a “Right to Abortion”.
  • Similarly, in A, B, and C, v. Ireland, the Court – contrary to what had been intended by the applicants and the lobby groups using them – explicitly stated that the Convention did not contain a “Right to Abortion”. It did, however, find that the rights of one of the three applicants had been violated by the fact that there was no legal procedure to determine ex ante whether, in her specific situation, an abortion would have been licit under the applicable Irish law.

The situation under the ECHR can thus be summarized by saying that, by adopting an ill-founded position of “neutrality” between those who seek to protect the right to life and those who seek to undermine it, the ECtHR has rendered the Convention ineffective and futile. On the other hand, the temerarious attempt of the abortion lobby to make the Court “discover” that the Convention contain an implicit “Right to Abortion” have – at least until now – also remained unsuccessful. Nevertheless, decisions like Tysiac v. Poland and A, B, and C, v. Ireland disturbingly reveal a willingness of certain ECtHR judges to fabricate a de facto “right to abortion” by imposing on Member States prohibiting abortion a number of (merely) procedural requirements that are impossible to fulfil.

The EU and the European Court of Justice (ECJ):

Since the beginning of this century, the European Union (EU) has shown increasing ambition to be seen as an institution that promotes human rights rather than just economic interests. This has led to a new human rights document, the EU Fundamental Rights Charter. Since 2009, the Charter is a binding part of the EU’s primary law, so that it can be invoked before the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU). The scope of application of the Charter is, however, limited to the legal acts of the EU and to the acts adopted by Member States when implementing EU legislation.

The CJEU has so far issued two judgments that have to do with the right to life of the unborn. Neither of these decisions was based on the new Fundamental Rights Charter:

  • In Society for the Protection of the Unborn Ltd. v. Grogan, the ECJ described abortion as a “service” under EU Law, which means that such service should in principle be allowed to be offered across borders within the EU. However, the Court also recognized that the Irish ban on abortions served a legitimate aim.
  • In the case of Brüstle v. Greenpeace, the Court had to determine the meaning of the term human embryo” in the context of an EU Directive that prohibits the patenting of inventions involving uses of human embryos for industrial or commercial purposes. The Court deducted from the common meaning of words that the term applies to the fertilized human egg from the moment of conception. This judgment, which is binding on all EU Member States, is of immense importance for at least the three following reasons: firstly, it recognizes that the fertilized egg is a “human” being; secondly, it acknowledges that it has this status as from the moment of conception; thirdly, although the judgment had not directly to do with abortion, it sets an important precedent that, given the EU’s obligation to be coherent in its policies, must unavoidably have consequences for the legal orders of all Member States.

The American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR)

Article 4 of the ACHR explicitly recognizes that “every person has the right to have his life respected. This right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the moment of conception”. It includes a provision prohibiting the execution of the death penalty against pregnant women.

The legal situation could therefore not be clearer: a State failing to protect children against abortion violates its obligation under the Convention.

The ACHR is thus the international text that affords the clearest and most explicit recognition of the right to life of unborn children. Latin America therefore remains a region where the unborn life continues to enjoy a comparatively high standard of protection, although some countries have now (often under pressure from UN bodies) liberalized their legislation. It remains yet to be seen how the Inter-American Human Rights Court will apply the Convention with regard to these countries.

The US and Canada are not parties to the ACHR.

The African Women’s Protocol (“Maputo Protocol”)

The Maputo Protocol is the one and only international “human rights” document to explicitly articulate, under the pretext of catering for women’s health, a “right to abortion”. Under Article 14 of the Protocol, States are required to “protect the reproductive rights of women by authorising medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the foetus.”

Having been ratified by just 28 countries with rather weak (if any) democratic, it can hardly be viewed as a trend-setter.

The United States of America

Even if it cannot be considered as “international law”, the legal situation in the USA is of such importance that it needs to be mentioned here. With the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCotUS) has, in a very negative sense, set a highly influential precedent and opened the door for a world-wide trend to legalize abortion.

The case challenged the constitutionality of a Texas statute banning abortion, on the grounds of a “right to privacy”. Although such a right is mentioned nowhere in the US constitution, the Supreme Court held the Texas statute to be unconstitutional, thus preventing all US States from adopting or maintaining legislation that affords the unborn child effective protection against abortion.

This case, which is the most dramatic example of “judicial activism” in known history, has severely undermined the standing of the SCotUS itself. A majority of states would wish to adopt restrictive measures against abortion, but in most cases such measures would be unconstitutional under the Roe decision. The only ways out of this impasse would be a new SCotUS decision reversing Roe v. Wade, or an explicit modification of the US Constitution. The legal and political barriers for both are high.

The US is thus a nearly unique case in the Western world, with the shift towards liberal abortion laws having been brought about not through legislative change, but through a revolutionary (but poorly argued) court decision. As a consequence of that decision, the US has now an extremely liberal legislation on abortion (abortion on demand), which at the same time is extremely difficult to overturn.

The San José Articles

In 2011, an international group of lawyers, medical scientists, and other experts, met in San José (Costa Rica) to adopt a declaration called the San José Articles, which refutes the false claim that access to abortion is an internationally recognized human right. The document is available on the internet at www.sanjosearticles.com.


[1]       A commonly used strategy to obfuscate widespread abortion consists in providing “menstrual regulation”: when a woman’s menstruation is overdue, the abortion procedure is carried out without any verification whether or not the woman is pregnant. Organisations like Planned Parenthood or Marie Stopes International routinely provide “menstrual regulation” as a part of their “sexual health” programmes in developing countries, thereby trying to conceal that what they are actually providing is abortion. Many providers of funding for these programmes (such as the European Commission) seem quite happy not to be informed more correctly.

[2]       This was the wedge that was used to force a first step towards “liberalization” of abortion in Ireland, where the Supreme Court decided that suicide threats were to be considered as an equivalent to a serious threat to the life of the pregnant woman and, as a consequence, granted permission to the applicant to travel abroad for an abortion. The pregnancy itself, however, was not associated to any health risks beyond those usually associated with pregnancy and childbirth.

[3]       A good example for such a constitutional provision is provided for by Article 40.3.3 (first sentence)  of the Constitution of Ireland: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.” (The two remaining sentences of Article 40.3.3, which have been introduced at later stages to open the door for abortion abroad, have the deplorable effect of limiting the protection afforded by this provision.)

[4]       Center for Reproductive Rights, “Fact Sheet: The World’s Abortion Laws,” September 2009.

[5]       Fact Sheet, supra.

[6]       Some abortionist lobbies seek to provide to their assertions a false appearance of scientific credibility by having them published in the scientific press. See, for example, Ch. Zampas and J. Gher, Abortion as a Human Right – International and Regional Standards. Human Rights Law Review, Vol. 8, Issue 2, pp. 249-294, 2008

[7]       http://www.unfpa.org/rights/docs/rightsrh_eng.pdf

[8]          CEDAW General Recommendation No. 24 on Art 12 of the CEDAW (1999), par.31

[9]          CEDAW General Recommendation No. 24 on Art 12 of the CEDAW (1999), par.31

[10]     This is explicitly stated in the ICPD Programme of Action adopted at the UN Conference on Population and Development (Cairo 1994), which says in paragraph 8.25 that “in no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning”. The Programme of Action is not an international treaty, and has no legally binding effect on any State. However, it is so far the only international document explicitly dealing with abortion. Contrary to the assertions made by certain pro-abortionist lobby groups, the Programme does not recognize any “right to abortion”, but explicitly excludes abortion as a means of family planning – which might arguably be considered a first step towards an explicit prohibition of abortion.

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