RIGHT TO LIFE (WOMEN’S) – Lives in danger: extrajudicial killings and the denial of abortion

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by Jihan Jacob

Rappler, 29 July 2019 

For the past three years, a slate of extrajudicial killings has been committed as part of the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign. Thousands have gone missing or have been killed, prompting the United Nations Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution condemning these acts. It urged the country to prevent more killings, conduct investigations, and ensure accountability.

Government officials who are sympathetic to the campaign have attempted to undermine those who passed the resolution, on the false pretext that such countries lack the moral legitimacy to condemn the Philippines because they permit legal abortion. [1]

What such argument misses is that allowing legal abortion is necessary to ensure the survival, well-being, and human rights of women…

…There is no conflict between allowing legal abortions and respecting the fundamental right to life. The human rights, including the right to life, of a pregnant woman or girl prevail over any government’s interest in prenatal protection. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is clear that human rights are meant to apply at the moment of birth, and not before. 

Both the drafters of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Human Rights Committee (HRC) – UN bodies monitoring states’ compliance with the ICCPR – have rejected the proposition that the right to life extends to prenatal life. 

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which mentions governments’ obligation to safeguard the child “before as well as after birth,” does not impart any right to the fetus and instead refers to the state’s duty to promote the health and nutrition of the pregnant woman. The Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN body monitoring states’ compliance with the CRC, also called for liberalizing laws by decriminalizing abortion to protect girls’ rights to life and health.

[1] Philippines Senate President Vicente Sotto told ANC news channel that the UN resolution should be ignored and Iceland investigated instead for allowing abortions. South China Morning Post, by Reuters, 15 July 2019 + PHOTO by EPA