U.N. Committee Says Irish Abortion Ban Violates International Law
A UN committee in Geneva blasted Ireland for its laws against abortion, saying its pro-life stance violates the terms of a long-standing UN human rights treaty.
Committee members told Irish Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald that the constitutional provision defending the unborn child from abortion represented "unacceptable cruelty." One member asked, "Can the delegation [from Ireland] explain how it reconciles its current laws on abortion with its obligations [under the treaty] --- which is, I may remind you --- an absolute right?"
According to Patrick Carr of the Dublin-based group "Life and Family", a number of pro-abortion groups testified and urged the committee to punish Ireland, including the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, and the Abortion Right Campaign. The Center for Reproductive Rights, a US based pro-abortion law firm, also testified.
Irish columnist David Quinn told Breitbart News that the Irish people do not hold such UN committees in very high regard but "The Irish Times gives those committees far more weight than they're due and so do our politicians." He said, "Every time [the country] has gone to a vote we have rejected a liberal abortion law. The Irish people should insist our government defend our constitution."
The only group to testify in Geneva in support of the Irish law was Carr's "Family and Life". Dr. Thomas Finegan told the committee "there is no such thing as a right to abortion in international human rights law" and that the "unborn child is recognized as a human rights subject by various international human rights provisions."
He further said the committee had no legal authority to issue binding interpretations of the treaty. The angered the chairman of the committee, Sir Nigel Rodley, who called Finegan's testimony, "breathtakingly arrogant."
The committee in Geneva is charged with examining state compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, one of two treaties from 1966 that put into force the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
While the treaty does not claim a right to abortion exists - indeed does not even mention abortion - the treaty monitoring body has taken it upon itself to redefine the treaty to include a right to abortion. In fact, the committee reads that right into the part of the treaty guaranteeing a "right to life."
The only body that can actually change the terms of the treaty is the States Parties to the treaty, that is, the 168 states that have ratified it. The States Parties have so far declined to place abortion into the treaty.
The committee, and others like it at the UN, have directed dozens of countries to legalize restrictive abortion laws. Not all countries have ignored the directives but most do.