On July 14, a member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee informed the Irish government that their anti-abortion legislation violates international human rights laws. Yes, you read that right. A law that protects unborn human life is in violation of human rights.
The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act , as Ireland’s abortion legislation is known, was actually viewed as a small victory for the pro-abortion movement after its passage in 2013. It redefined the beginning of human life to be implantation in the womb, rather than the moment of conception, as Irish law had previously affirmed. However, redefining human life doesn’t satisfy the pro-abortion advocates at the UN. According to a member of the UN Human Rights Committee, there are certain circumstances in which “we deem (member) states to be under an obligation to allow safe and legal abortion.” Ireland’s current abortion law, which prohibits abortion unless the mother’s life is in danger, allegedly violates this law.
It is no secret that the United Nations has a pro-abortion bias. In May, the vice-chairwoman of the UN Committee Against Torture warned the Vatican that the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion – that it is gravely contrary to the moral law – might violate the Convention Against Torture, to which the Holy See is a signatory. The UN Committee for the Rights of the Child recently issued a sixteen-page report that in part criticized the Church’s teaching on abortion, contraception, and homosexuality. It urged the Vatican to “amend canon law.” Yes, you also read that right. The UN demands that the Catholic Church, and the few nations that promote Catholic social teaching on abortion, “amend” their “laws” on fundamental life issues.
This is absolutely ludicrous from a number of perspectives. Let’s start with the names of the committees that made these demands: the UN Committee on Human Rights, the UN Committee Against Torture, and the UN Committee for the Rights of the Child. By lobbying for abortion, these committees contradict their own (rather pretentious) titles. Abortion is not a human right. Tearing apart an unborn child, limb from limb, would fit most definitions of torture. And children in the womb also have rights that are derived from their dignity as a human person. Each of these topics could be extensively addressed and defended, but it suffices for now to say that the United Nations has a remarkably inconsistent record on human rights issues.
Second, the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion isn’t a mere law that can be amended. The sacredness and inviolability of human life was evident at the moment of creation (see Genesis 9:5-6) and has been made manifest by God throughout salvation history. It is truth and, in the words of St. Maximilian Kolbe, “No one in the world can change Truth.” According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception … This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.” It is absurd to think that an organization of human origin (the UN) has the authority to change a God-given truth to suit its allegedly humanitarian aims.
The Catholic Church’s stance on the dignity of the human person and human sexuality isn’t a new issue. The Church has consistently promulgated its teachings on human rights for two thousand years. My apologies to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, published in 1948. You were never even in the running. The Catholic Church had a nineteen-hundred year head start.