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Organization of American States experts on Violence against Women call for Legalization of Abortion

by | Oct 9, 2014

 

Editor’s note. This analysis comes from the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues (PNCI).

oasA declaration calling for the legalization of abortion in all countries in the Americas–from Canada to Chile, including the USA–was issued by the Organization of American States (OAS) entity that oversees the anti-violence convention known as Belém do Pará.

The Committee of Experts (CEVI) of the Follow-up Mechanism to the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (MESECVI) issued a Declaration on Violence against Women, Girls and Adolescents and their Sexual and Reproductive Rights (English, Spanish) that recommends countries in the region, in order to guarantee the “…sexual and reproductive health of women and their right to life”, establish laws and policies to “enable the termination of pregnancy, at the very least in the following cases: i) risk to the life or health of the woman; ii) inability of the fetus to survive; and iii) sexual violence, incest and forced insemination”.

The committee voiced opposition to the right of conscience declaring: “That access to health services in general, and services for the interruption of pregnancy in particular, must be confidential and that the conscientious objection of health personnel under no circumstances may result in the violation of women’s human rights;”

The declaration for the most part repeats opinions voiced by UN pro-abortion activist committees and individuals and NGOs [Non-Governmental Organizations] that charge laws that protect women and children from the violence of abortion “inflict torture” on women or “deny women reproductive justice”. The president of the Center for Reproductive Rights –an abortion advocacy organization that testified before the CEVI as it was drafting the declaration — was quick to voice support stating:

“Denying safe, legal care to women who need to end a pregnancy is an act of violence, and it is a tremendous measure of progress that a body within the Organization of American States has recognized this.

“Women denied this essential health care service face serious threats to their lives, families, and future as a result of unsafe and illegal abortions.

“There can be no denying that this is a violation of women’s fundamental human rights.

“We commend the progressive voices within the Organization of American States for recognizing that abortion is not a crime and women’s reproductive and sexual rights must be respected and protected. And we will continue working to hold governments accountable for guaranteeing and protecting women’s access to a full range of safe, legal reproductive health care services as a matter of basic human rights in the Americas.”

This latest action follows a recommendation in 2012 in the Second Hemispheric Report on the Implementation of the Belém do Pará Convention that States Parties to the Convention should “…legalize interruption of pregnancy on therapeutic grounds; as well as women’s access to such procedures; legalize the interruption of pregnancy caused by rape;”

This past June the OAS General Assembly approved a resolution encouraging States Parties to the Convention to “implement the recommendations of the MESECVI to promote full compliance with the Convention of Belém do Pará”. Guatemala and Ecuador added a pro-life statement of position to the resolution described as: “pursuant to their respective domestic legislation, they recognize the right to life from the moment of conception.” …

PNCI notes that violence against women and girls deserves sound policy recommendations and not manipulation of the issue to advance access to abortion. Calls for the legalization of abortion conflict with established international human rights law, with national policies in many countries in the region, and with cultural and religious beliefs that value the lives of children in the womb. The American Convention on Human Rights, passed in 1969 in San José, affirms under Article 4, Right to Life:

“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. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”