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Pressure from UN Committee to Liberalize Abortion Policies in Peru is Unfounded

In one of the most recent acts of social imperialism by the United Nations, the CEDAW Committee determined that Peru must compensate a girl for being denied an abortion and liberalize its abortion policies.

This is only the most recent example of a United Nations committee overstepping its bounds to incorrectly imply that there is an international human right to abortion. This is simply not the case, as the recently published San Jose Articles point out.

The San Jose Articles are a declaration by the world’s most prominent human rights lawyers, advocates, diplomats, professors, legislators, and leaders – including AUL’s Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs, William Saunders—that there is no international human right to abortion.

The purpose of this legal document is to counter the fabrications made by UN committees, non-governmental organizations, and others that abortion is a human right and pro-life countries should liberalize their abortion policies. The hope is that these Articles will be a tool to assist pro-life countries in defending their sovereignty against international bullies, by allowing them to set their own social agenda to protect the most defenseless of their citizens—the unborn child.

In addition to compensation for the girl denied an abortion, the CEDAW Committee recommendations for Peru in L.C. v. Peru[i]  include review of Peruvian laws in order to ensure “effective access” to therapeutic abortion, a recommendation that the state educate/train healthcare professionals to “change their attitudes and behavior” with regard to “adolescent women seeking reproductive health services” etc., and a recommendation that Peru “review its restrictive interpretation of therapeutic abortion.”[ii] These recommendations exemplify a clear case of the heavy handed social agenda of the UN—trying to impose a pro-abortion policy on a pro-life country.

The Center for Reproductive Rights has lauded the recommendations from the CEDAW Committee, to be a huge triumph reinforcing an international right to abortion.[iii] The truth is that recommendations from the CEDAW Committee are not binding law. Further, any declaration from such a committee asserting that there is a human right to abortion under international law is totally unfounded.

As the San Jose Articles point out, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and others recognize that “all human beings, as members of the human family, are entitled to recognition of their inherent dignity and to protection of their inalienable human rights.”[iv]

The Articles go on to point out that nowhere in international law can a right to abortion be found, nor should any UN treaty correctly be interpreted as creating a right to abortion. [v] Therefore, when the CEDAW committee makes recommendations that a country liberalize its abortion policy, as it did with Peru this month, it is acting outside of the authority given to it by the treaty it is supposed to monitor. [vi] These recommendations are not binding and they have no authority under international law.

The CEDAW Committee has requested that Peru respond to its recommendations within six months. This is not the first time that Peru has received pressure from a UN committee to liberalize its abortion policy. In the past Peru has held its ground. Let the San Jose Articles be an encouragement to Peru this time around, and a resource to all countries that receive pressure to liberalize their abortion policies. 

[i] CEDAW/C/50/D/22/2009

[ii] Id. at Para. 9.

[iii] http://reproductiverights.org/en/press-room/un-rules-that-peru-must-relax-restrictions-on-abortion

[iv] San Jose Articles, San Jose, Costa Rica (March 25, 2011), Article 4. Available at, http://www.sanjosearticles.com/?page_id=2

[v] Id. at Article 5.

[vi] Id. at Article 6.

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