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The new abortion frontier

UN proposes resolution to declare abortion an international human right

United Nations headquarters in New York iStock

The new abortion frontier

As pro-lifers continue to celebrate the victory of Roe’s reversal, pro-abortion activists are looking for new avenues to bypass democracy. It’s no secret that many pro-abortion activists are now in favor of “packing the court,” as well as using corporations to exert power and influence to undermine the democratic process. But perhaps less obvious is the work of abortion advocates at the United Nations, where they’ve been chipping away at the right to life for decades and are now closer than ever to realizing their goal of declaring abortion an international human right.

The United Nations is the next frontier for abortion rights activists, and the Biden Administration is full of those activists. A resolution declaring abortion a human right is currently before the United Nations General Assembly and could soon be adopted—perhaps even today. Reportedly, the Biden Administration and the European Union have been exerting great pressure on member states to adopt the resolution without changes or amendments.

The resolution, called the “International Cooperation for Access to Justice, Remedies and Assistance for Survivors of Sexual Violence,” promotes “access to safe abortion” as part of human rights. Activists could use it to promote the highly controversial “comprehensive sexuality education,” which sexualizes children and undermines parental involvement in their children’s education regarding sex. This resolution is not only detrimental to women, children, and families worldwide, but it is also an infringement on the sovereign right of nations to legislate freely and without pressure from multilateral organizations on culturally-sensitive and controversial issues.

In the wake of the Dobbs decision that reversed Roe v. Wade, declaring abortion an international human right is the latest move by the Biden Administration to circumvent current (or future) pro-life laws in the United States by attempting to override them with international law. While this is not a new tactic of pro-abortion activists—both Obama and Clinton Administrations sought to use the United Nations to further their pro-abortion aims domestically and internationally—it is much closer now than ever to realizing the goal of legalized abortion worldwide.

Congress should investigate whether the Biden Administration has breached U.S. law in supporting this resolution.

While the United Nations has only as much power as its member states grant to it, declaring abortion an international human right would still have a profound negative effect on the pro-life movement both at home and abroad. Current and future pro-life presidential administrations would be strongly discouraged from executing pro-life laws—as would the U.S. Congress, states, and localities—due to the threat of being named as international human rights violators.

As part of their participation in the United Nations, governments have an obligation to “protect and promote human rights by prohibiting violations by officials and agents of the state” and by prosecuting offenders. If governments themselves violate human rights, their standing as member states in good faith at the UN could be compromised. Additionally, corporations and international financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank, may no longer cooperate with those governments, as such institutions have a duty to avoid complicity in human rights abuses.

The Biden Administration’s support for such a resolution at the UN is no surprise. But the fact that they’re pressuring nations to support it without change or amendment could indicate that the administration is actually lobbying for abortion internationally, which is illegal. Officials are quite candid about their aims. U.S Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs Loyce Pace says that “advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights,” a phrase that promotes the right of women to access abortion, “is central to our core global health goals.” Congress should investigate whether the Biden Administration has breached U.S. law in supporting this resolution and, more broadly, in its bilateral abortion diplomacy with other nations.

Instead of writing and passing resolutions about matters scientifically proven to reduce mortality and increase women’s health, the Biden Administration and its allies at the UN instead stall negotiations over controversial issues like abortion where there will never be national consensus. Manufacturing an abstract “right” to abortion is not only unjust, but it’s also antithetical to the foremost human right enshrined by the UN—the right to life.

Katelyn Walls Shelton

Katelyn Walls Shelton is a Bioethics Fellow at the Paul Ramsey Institute. She is a women’s health policy consultant who previously worked to promote the well-being of women and the unborn at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She graduated from Yale Divinity School and Union University and lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, John, and their three children.


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