Tag Archives: San Jose Articles

WHO’s Report Is It Anyway?

By Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D.

(NEW YORK, C-FAM) In recent weeks a new paper asserting that all nations should liberalize abortion laws has been characterized by the news media as an authoritative study by the World Health Organization (WHO), but the paper’s fine print says it’s not a WHO report. Why the mismatch?

The report found that “unsafe” abortion has increased in recent years despite the fact that abortions overall are declining. It concluded that in order to make abortion “safe” and to reduce worldwide maternal deaths, restrictive abortion laws should be rescinded.

Media coverage served mainly to disseminate rather than critique the report, which was published in the British medical journal Lancet. The Lancet also characterized it as a WHO study, a joint project with the Guttmacher Institute, which is the research arm of Planned Parenthood, an abortion advocacy organization.

Notably absent from news coverage of the story is that that the WHO has distanced itself both from the views contained in this study and the views of previous studies by the same authors. Two of the authors, including one WHO staff member, collaborated previously on a paper asserting abortion is a human right.

Just over a month ago, a top WHO official asked that the signers of the San Jose Articles remove a footnote in the Articles stating that the WHO had said, “[a]ccess to safe, legal abortion is a fundamental right of women, irrespective of where they live.” (The San Jose Articles is an expert statement on the status of the unborn child in international law.) The quote appeared in a WHO paper, published on the WHO website, and referring all inquiries about its findings to WHO. Yet the official asserted that due to a disclaimer in the paper’s fine print, the Articles could not accurately say that WHO embraced the view. Organizers of the San Jose Articles removed the note.

The new study carries the same disclaimer, which states, “The authors alone are responsible for the views expressed in this paper and they do not necessarily represent the decisions, policy, or views of their institutions or those of funding agencies.”

Experts have sharply criticized the most recent report’s methodology, including the lack of data regarding abortion, a reliance on arbitrarily inflated abortion statistics, the conflating of spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) and planned or induced abortions, and the use of quasi-legal terms to define its dependent variable, “safe” abortion.

Such fundamental flaws would have made the paper warrant far less credence than it received. Arguably, it was the WHO imprimatur that caused many to overlook the errors in the rush to publicize it.

This raises the question: what is the position of WHO if it does not endorse the statement that abortion is a human right? And what is the position of WHO regarding whether all nations must liberalize abortion laws, the conclusion of this most recent paper?

If WHO’s position is neutral, why doesn’t this paper say so? The absence of such a statement leaves readers and reporters with the impression that the unambiguous declaration on abortion is the position of the organization that is disseminating the study.

Friday Fax asked WHO to answer these questions but the organization did not comment.

It is reasonable to conclude that WHO officials are trying to have it both ways: to endorse the controversial research but allow the organization to disclaim views when pressed.

Scientists have noted that WHO’s policy making role is in conflict with its research role in the area of reproductive health. They have urged WHO colleagues to abandon the political side of their work. The existence of a disclaimer in this latest, highly controversial and badly flawed paper, makes this recommendation all the more cogent – and urgent.

Susan Yoshihara is Senior Vice President for Research at the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute. Her article first appeared in the Friday Fax, an internet report published weekly by C-FAM and is republished here with permission.

Lords in London Launch San Jose Articles

By Lord David Alton

(C-FAM, London) When Lord Nicholas Windsor became a Catholic, he renounced his claim to the throne and embraced the Church’s teaching on the right to life of the unborn. This week in a Committee Room of Parliament, he supported a groundbreaking defense of that right, stating “I see the San Jose Articles as an attempt to draw a line and fight back against the strong drift towards conjuring a fully-fledged right to abortion from out of the provisions of international human rights law.”

More than 30 senior politicians, diplomats, lawyers, scholars and public figures from around the world have signed the San Jose Articles, a document that defends the unborn child and refutes the subversive international campaign that falsely claims that abortion is a human right.

The importance of the Articles was recently underlined when the UN Special Rapporteur on Health, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the UN Secretary General all wrongly stated that a right to abortion exists. It is precisely this approach which has led to the gendercide that has taken the lives of over 100 million girls – aborted because of their sex.

The San Jose Articles, named for the city where they were drafted in Costa Rica in March 2011, were launched this month at the United Nations. Further launches have taken place in legislatures around the world – with Jim Dobbin MP and Fiona Bruce MP, the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the All Party Pro Life Group, joining me at Westminster.

The San Jose Articles begin by proclaiming the scientific fact that human life begins at conception and further explains that no UN treaty mentions abortion or defines reproductive health as including abortion. On the contrary, a number of human rights treaties recognize the humanity of unborn children and the rights and duties of governments to protect them as members of the human family.

Over two-thirds of UN member-states have laws recognizing that unborn children deserve protection. Only 56 countries permit abortion for any reason, and only 22 of these are without restriction.

Some UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and wealthy countries are waging a campaign to bully and manipulate nations – from Nicaragua to Kenya; from Columbia to Ireland – into changing their laws on abortion. In this effort they misquote treaties and, more deplorably, use aid as a form of blackmail. Developing countries are told they will lose help for the poor if they fail to conform. Protecting the unborn can lead to retaliation and retribution. Sweden, for instance, withdrew all assistance to Nicaragua after it failed to pass a liberal abortion law. To justify this shocking intrusion, Sweden said abortion “is super important to us”.

Some countries are undoubtedly succumbing to the bullying and bogus assertions. The High Court of Colombia changed its country’s abortion laws based on false claims.

While no international right to abortion exists, the “right to life” is set out in Article 3 of The Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which had its genesis in the horrors of the Second World War. The San Jose Articles re-assert the admirable impulses that gave birth to the 1948 Declaration and recognize that the greatest of all rights is the right to life.

I ended my remarks at the Westminster launch with a true story.

In 1954 Joanne Schieble, a young unmarried student, discovered she was pregnant. Her father would not let her marry the child’s father. Although she could have had an abortion, it was illegal and dangerous. Instead, she arranged to have the baby adopted.

Paul and Clara Jobs adopted the baby boy and named him Steven.

Not every child will have a life as remarkable as Steve Jobs. But with every abortion we have little idea of who we are so casually losing. As the San Jose Articles remind us, every life is precious.

This article first appeared in the Friday Fax, an internet report published weekly by C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute (http://www.c-fam.org). This article appears with permission.

News Flash! UN Officials Wrong. No Right to Abortion. New Expert Document Issued at United Nations

Tomorrow morning at the UN press briefing room, internationally recognized scholar Professor Robert George of Princeton and former US Ambassador Grover Joseph Rees will challenge claims made by UN personnel and others that there exists an international right to abortion in international law.

As recently as a few weeks ago the UN Special Rapporteur on Health, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Secretary General have all said such a right exists. And, according to Human Rights Watch the CEDAW Committee has directed 93 countries to change their laws on abortion.

Professor George, Ambassador Rees and 30 other international experts are releasing the San Jose Articles to refute these claims and to assert the rights of the unborn child in international law.

Other signatories to the Articles include Professor John Finnis of Oxford, Professor John Haldane of the University of St. Andrews, Francisco Tatad, the former majority leader of the Philippine Senate, Javier Borrego, former Judge of the European Court of Human Rights, and Professor Carter Snead of UNESCO’s international committee on bioethics.

“The San Jose Articles were drafted by a large group of experts in law, medicine, and public policy. The Articles will support and assist those around the world who are coming under pressure from UN personnel and others who say falsely that governments are required by international law to repeal domestic laws protecting human beings in the embryonic and fetal stages of development against the violence of abortion” said Professor George.

Ambassador Grover Joseph Rees, former US Ambassador to East Timor, said, “When I was in Timor I witnessed first-hand a sustained effort by some international civil servants and representatives of foreign NGOs to bully a small developing country into repealing its pro-life laws. The problem is that people on the ground, even government officials, have little with which to refute the extravagant claim that abortion is an internationally recognized human right. The San Jose Articles are intended to help them fight back.”