With many sections holding their AGMs about now, it’s probably useful to remind ourselves of an argument that will undoubtedly be trotted out by some of the members of the organization that are campaigning for the advocacy of abortion. An argument that, as Michael Johann pointed out in a comment to this blog, AI Secretary General Irene Khan is happy to make during the less-than-impartial consultation period. [In an interview with the Weltwoche from Switzerland Irene Khan said: There is no human right to life for a fetus. (Sixth Question/Answer)] Setting aside the question of whether or not it is proper for the Secretary General to make these arguments at all at this time, the argument that the unborn child has no rights under international law is not only biased interpretation of law, it is also quite wrong.

Those proposing advocating abortion will usually try and shout you down and rhyme off some legislation they claim supports their view. The fact is that the following documents provide strong commitments to protecting human rights of all without discrimination. This is one of the reasons that AI has stayed neutral on the position fo so long; the organization recognized the rights could be extended to the unborn and knew that this was specifically discussed at many of the draft stages of the documents.

  • the United Nations Charter,
  • the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
  • the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948)
  • the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966),
  • the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989),
  • the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959)

Discriminating against the unborn because of their age, status, personhood, or disability is an infringement of their human rights. To retain their legitimacy human rights organizations, such as AI, cannot favor one person’s human rights over another because of age. If you’re interested in learning more about the question of the unborn child’s human rights under international law a good place to start is Drs John Fleming and Michael Hains discussion here.

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