The Corner

Politics & Policy

U.N. Pushes ‘Right to Life’ for Some

The United Nations Rapporteur on the human “right to life” indicates that the UN is determined to make the right to life more relative and elastic than robust and near-absolute.

The interpretation reluctantly allows the death penalty “for the most serious crimes and under the strictest limits.” Okay, I dig that the trend internationally is against the death penalty.

But where is the concern for the unborn in abortion? It doesn’t exist.

Moreover, the “right to life” would be substantially distorted to protect a liberal right to abortion internationally, and indeed, would seem to prevent abortion from being outlawed. From the draft “General comment No. 36 on article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, on the right to life:”

States parties may not regulate pregnancy or abortion in a manner that runs contrary to their duty to ensure that women do not have to undertake unsafe abortions.

[For example, they should not take measures such as criminalizing pregnancies by unmarried women or applying criminal sanctions against women undergoing abortion or against physicians assisting them in doing so, when taking such measures is expected to significantly increase resort to unsafe abortions]. Nor should States parties introduce humiliating or unreasonably burdensome requirements on women seeking to undergo abortion.

One need not be a prophet to see how such a pro-abortion interpretation would be used to attack many pro-life laws in the United States.

Assisted suicide/euthanasia is also twisted so as to not violate the supposedly inviolable right to life. More, the statement could be interpreted as requiring legalization under certain circumstances:

States should take adequate measures, without violating their other Covenant obligations, to prevent suicides, especially among individuals in particularly vulnerable situations.

At the same time, States parties [may allow] [should not prevent] medical professionals to provide medical treatment or the medical means in order to facilitate the termination of life of [catastrophically] afflicted adults, such as the mortally wounded or terminally ill, who experience severe physical or mental pain and suffering and wish to die with dignity. 

In such cases, States parties must ensure the existence of robust legal and institutional safeguards to verify that medical professionals are complying with the free, informed, explicit and, unambiguous decision of their patients, with a view to protecting patients from pressure and abuse.

If this becomes the accepted official UN interpretation, the right to life will become decidedly relative, not applying at all to the unborn and opening the door for the suicides or medical homicides of the seriously ill or disabled–while substantially protecting murderers and those who commit other heinous crimes.

Perhaps we should be more honest and call the once most fundamental right, the “right to life for some.”

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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