Thursday 18 November 2010

The pro-abortion lobby is working to undermine the international human rights order

Dr Leslie Cannold (pictured), one of Australia's leading pro-abortion campaigners, wrote for The Guardian last week an article entitled "Abortion is about balancing rights - religious medics don't get the final say". Speaking about the right of medics to conscientious objection to abortion, she claimed that:
"no right, whether legal or moral, is absolute."
Really? How about the right of innocent human beings not to be intentionally:
  • killed?
  • dismembered?
  • poisoned?
  • neglected to death?
And what about the right of women:
  • not to be sexually assaulted?
  • not to be forced to have an abortion?
  • to refuse sterilisation?
  • to refuse contraceptive implants?
  • to have more than one or two children?
Dr Cannold's denial of absolute legal and moral rights reveals the contempt in which the pro-abortion lobby holds even the most revered of principles if those principles even seem to get in the way of their ideological committment to the killing of unborn children. Dr Cannold should re-read the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which among other things declares that:
  • "recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world"
  • "disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind"
  • "human rights should be protected by the rule of law"
  • "the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights"
  • "Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights"
  • "every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights"
  • "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind"
  • "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person"
Properly understood, the right to life and other rights (such as personal autonomy) do not come into conflict and do not require balancing or compromising. There is an order and a hierarchy of rights: the right to life is first and foremost, and the other rights both flow from the right to life and serve the right to life. Although human goods other than life may be more precious, the possession of life is fundamental. Unless the right to life is guaranteed, all other rights are in danger of being violated and may become purely theoretical.

Conscientious objection, which is a fundamental human right recognised in international law, trumps any supposed right to abortion. Not only has a right to abortion never been recognised in international human rights law, the unborn child is in fact protected against abortion in international human rights law (in principle, though rarely in practice). 

Dr Cannold's article is painfully out-of-date: last month the parliamentary assembly of Europe's premier human rights organisation, the Council of Europe, rejected her claims and passed a resolution saying:
"No person, hospital or institution shall be coerced, held liable or discriminated against in any manner because of a refusal to perform, accommodate, assist or submit to an abortion, the performance of a human miscarriage, or euthanasia or any act which could cause the death of a human foetus or embryo, for any reason."
Clearly we must keep up the battle as our opponents re-group after their Council of Europe drubbing. The pro-life movement, aided by church leaders throughout the world, need to run great campaigns in support of conscientious objection - by nurses, doctors, pharmacists, educationalists and any professional person or other person who may be under to pressure to participate in anti-life practices.

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