Vying UN Petitions Address Life Issues

The Bulletin |

Two opposing petitions regarding abortion, women’s health and family life marked the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) Dec. 10.

Over 650 signatures were gathered in one year for Marie Stopes International Global Call to Action petition to have UDHR renegotiated in favor of abortion-rights language. The Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) responded to the Stopes petition with the U.N. Petition for the Unborn Child and the Family, which acquired 300,000 signatures in a span of two months to influence the General Assembly’s “proper” interpretation of UDHR protecting the rights of unborn children, mothers and families.

“We sign this Global Call to Action to demand that women everywhere facing unwanted pregnancies be treated with respect and compassion and have full access to legal, voluntary, safe and affordable abortions as part of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care,” according to Global Call to Action.

Austin Ruse, president of C-FAM, is unsure as to whether the Stopes petition was formally presented to the U.N. and Stopes did not respond for comment. International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), which supports Stopes, however, released a statement against C-FAM’s petition the day it was formally presented to the U.N.

“Indeed, when women’s access to safe and legal abortion services are restricted, a number of her human rights are at risk,” Alexandra Garita, international advocacy coordinator, IPPF/Western Hemisphere Region said in a statement. “And the reality is that even where abortion is permitted by law — such as for example in the United States — women often have severely limited access to safe abortion services because of lack of proper regulation, health services or political will.” 

Currently, over 440,000 people have signed C-FAM’s petition, including additions since its presentation to the U.N. C-FAM’s goal is to gather one million over the next year to demonstrate to the general assembly the support of a pro-life interpretation of UDHR and encourage “all governments to interpret [UDHR] properly such that:

“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person (Article 3); men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family (Article 16); the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state (Article 16); motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance (Article 25); parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children (Article 26).”

While this petition would not change the any laws, the General Assembly’s interpretation of UDHR could impact how governments deal with life issues.

Mr. Ruse said the purpose of signatures was to “remind member states of the U.N. that the universal declaration protects unborn child, the traditional family and motherhood — some things that have been forgotten over the years.”

He said the number of signatures gathered in support of these ideals demonstrate that, “the left is keenly interested in opening up declaration for negations because they feel confident that they can advance their cause, but sensible people are not interested.”

Erin Maguire can be reached at emaguire@thebulletin.us.

This article can also be viewed at The Bulletin's website.

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