Choice at the UN: The Tensions of Interfaith Pro-Life Lobbyists

Heard an interesting talk this week by Austin Ruse, who, heading up a Catholic NGO at the United Nations, is on a professional and vocational quest to prevent the UN, in its various documents and legal instruments, both non-binding and binding, from declaring abortion to be a human right. He pursues a similar track regarding “gender identity,” another anti-traditionalist area seen as ripe for human-righthood on the wild-eyed political left. Ruse has been successful to date — if, by success, we mean continuing to stand in place on the edge of civilizational precipice. And we do.

But this comes at some immeasurable toll. Islam opposes abortion; therefore, as Ruse explained, among his sturdiest allies are representatives from many Islamic countries — probably the whole OIC shebang, I would think. But, as he noted, these same Islamic countries persecute Christians (not to mention Jews and other non-Muslims). This means, as he said, that the anti-abortion coalition at the UN cannnot also be a religious freedom coalition as well.

There is a horror to this that is palpable. In Ruse’s case, for example, the Catholic teachings he holds dear and, not incidentally, inculcate opposition to abortion, are anathema under the sharia (Islamic law) that directs the lives of the good Muslims of his anti-abortion coalition. Indeed, should a Muslim individual renounce Islam for Catholicism (or any other faith, or no faith), his “apostasy” from Islam is punishable by death under sharia. We saw this play out to the 11th hour again last year in US-supported Afghanistan where only international pressure saved the life of a death-penalty-convicted “apostate.”

Is this just another instance of politics making strange bedfellows? I’m afraid not– not in this era of expansionist, flexing Islam. Notice it is not the Christian tradition, the one that upholds freedom of conscience, that proves to be stronger in this particular contest of wills in the international arena. That is, it is not the Islamic countries who put aside their “prejudices” against other religions to join a religious liberty caucus in their desire to preserve fetal life; it is the pluralistic non-Muslims who put aside their allegiance to religious (and other) liberty to make common cause with religious totalitarians to oppose abortion.

Lesser of two evils? Or would it be better to fail at preventing the UN from declaring abortion a human right? I think it would be best to ignore and pull out of the UN altogether, which doesn’t answer the question. I don’t know how religious doctrine weighs the lives of death-penalty-convicted apostates vs. the unborn; but it seems that the coalition Ruse describes is not without risk for welcoming proponents of sharia into the most respected circles of Western moral and religious tradition.


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