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Abortion agenda rejected in UN Disability Convention

14 December 2006

Abortion agenda rejected in UN Disability Convention London, 14th December 2006 - An attempt to enshrine abortion as a human right was rejected by many nations at the adoption of the Disability Convention by the United Nations General Assembly yesterday. Peter C Smith, chief administrative officer at the United Nations for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) and the International Right To Life Federation (IRTLF), said: "15 national delegations made good interpretative statements on the controversial term 'sexual and reproductive health', which is often falsely interpreted to include abortion. The strongest statement was from the Holy See. In part this reads: "[T]he Holy See understands access to reproductive health as being a holistic concept that does not consider abortion or access to abortion as a dimension of these terms. [T]his article does not create any new international rights. [H]owever, even with this understanding, we opposed the inclusion of such a phrase in this article, because in some countries reproductive health services include abortion, thus denying the inherent right to life of every human being, affirmed by article 10 of the convention. It is surely tragic that, whenever fetal defect is a precondition for offering or employing abortion, the same convention created to protect persons with disabilities from all discrimination in the exercise of their rights, may be used to deny the very basic right to life of disabled unborn persons. For this reason, and despite the many helpful articles this Convention contains, the Holy See is unable to sign it." Mr Smith continued: "The United States also made a pro-life intervention, which reads: "[T]he United States understands that the phrase "reproductive health" in Article 25(a) of the draft Convention does not include abortion, and its use in that Article does not create any abortion rights, and cannot be interpreted to constitute support, endorsement or promotion of abortion. We stated this understanding at the time of adoption of the Convention in the Ad Hoc Committee, and note that no other delegation suggested a different understanding of this term." Mr Smith concluded: "These interpretative statements means that no one can claim that the Disability Convention includes a right to abortion, under the term 'sexual and reproductive health'."

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