Statement of the Holy SeeBefore the Third Committee of the 66th session of the General Assemblyduring the Interactive Dialogue on the Report of theSpecial Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoymentof the highest attainable standard of physical and mental healthNew York, 24 October 2011Mr. Chairman, In his interim report (A/66/254), the Special Rapporteur wrongly asserts that criminal laws and other legal restrictions on abortion are a violation of the right to health. The Special Rapporteur fails to take into account the provisions of various international instruments which safeguard and protect the inherent dignity and worth of the person, born and unborn. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that “Every human being has the inherent right to life” (Article 6,1); the ICCPR also makes clear, for example, that capital punishment “shall not be carried out on pregnant women” (Article 6,5); and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) affirms that children are entitled to “appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth” (Preamble).No right to abortion exists under international law, either by way of treaty obligation or under customary international law and no international treaty can accurately be cited as establishing or recognizing a right to abortion. It is instructive to point out in this regard that nowhere in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is reference made to abortion.Confronted with the misstatement of the Special Rapporteur, namely, that legal restrictions of abortions constitute a violation of the right to health, my delegation points out that the very opposite is in fact the case: abortion is itself a violation of the right to health both of the unborn child and of the mother. Abortion kills the unborn child. It also inflicts physical, spiritual and sometimes psychological harm on the mother and can bring about her death. As a matter of scientific fact, a new human life begins at conception. For this reason, laws must be enacted and upheld that criminalize all induced abortions.Mr. Chairman, States are called upon always to respect the primary right and duty of parents in the upbringing and development of their children. It follows logically that parental consent is required for all matters related to the health and wellbeing of their children. The proposal of the Special Rapporteur to circumvent spousal and/or parental consent for the implementation of contraceptive and sterilizing techniques stands in stark contravention of the very nature of marriage and parenthood. In this regard, the Special Rapporteur has also failed to take into account numerous articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Articles 3, 5, 7, 14, and 18). Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Monday 24 October 2011
Statement of the Holy See before the Third Committee of the 66th session of the General Assembly during the Interactive Dialogue on the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, New York, 24 October 2011