UN panel: Abortion and assisted suicide are human rights, you know

Well, give the panel some credit; at least they’ve dispensed with their obsession with Israel, at least temporarily. The bad news is they’ve begun focusing on death as a human right. The UNHRC wants to include abortion and assisted suicide in its covenant, demanding that all signatories guarantee access to both:

An advanced, unedited version of a ‘general comment’ on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by the United Nations Human Rights Committee wants to define abortion and assisted suicide as a human right.

“Although States parties may adopt measures designed to regulate voluntary terminations of pregnancy, such measures must not result in violation of the right to life of a pregnant woman or girl, or her other rights under the Covenant,” says the draft, placing the life of the mother ahead of that of the unborn child.

The Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council was established in 2006 to promote and protect human rights around the world. A “General Comment” is a UN agency’s interpretation of the provisions of the treaties to which it is a party.

The comment also says that States must guarantee “safe, legal and effective” access to abortion when the life of the pregnant woman is at risk, or when carrying the pregnancy to term could cause her pain or suffering, “most notably where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or is not viable.”

It’s particularly repugnant that the UNHRC is trying to leverage this as part of the covenant’s “right to life” clause, but it’s hardly the only objectionable part of this effort. They also want signatory nations to eliminate conscientious-objection clauses that allow providers to opt out of procedures that go against their religious beliefs:

It calls for the decriminalization of abortion, both for women and the medical providers assisting them, and State parties should “not introduce new barriers and should remove existing barriers” that deny access to a safe abortion, “including barriers caused as a result of the exercise of conscientious objection by individual medical providers.”

If that sounds like a rather totalitarian approach, it’s instructive at this point to remember which nations comprise the membership of the UN Human Rights Council. There’s China, which has made abortion not so much a human right as a mandate. They’re also presently conducting widespread ethic cleansing in the western part of the country, targeting the Uighurs and others. Cuba remains on the committee, and they’ve just started to consider whether to extend private property rights to the subjects of the Castro regime. Pakistan just improved its human-rights record by releasing a Christian woman from a death sentence for supposed “blasphemy,” and are now in talks with Canada to eject her.  Saudi Arabia just assassinated one of its critics, but at least women are allowed to drive these days.

And let’s not even get started on Venezuela.

The point being, this panel has plenty of work to do with its own members to bring them into compliance with the covenant’s core human-rights issues of freedom of thought, speech, worship, and enterprise. Besides, as former US ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon told Crux, the UNHRC isn’t supposed to be formulating new “human rights.” Its mission is to monitor compliance with the existing international covenant on human rights.

Maybe they should stick with that mission. They seem rather poor at it, so they need all the practice they can get — and they can start with themselves first.