UN told abortion link to human rights treaties ‘without foundation’

Pro Life Campaign says it’s ‘regrettable’ committee criticised Ireland’s abortion stance

The claim that human rights treaties can be interpreted to allow a right to abortion is “completely without foundation”, the Pro Life Campaign has told the United Nations (UN).

Pro Life Campaign deputy chairwoman Cora Sherlock gave a presentation to the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva on Tuesday when Article 6 (The Right to Life) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was discussed.

She said a right to abortion was “not supported” by the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Ms Sherlock pointed to the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states children need “special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth”.


She said it was “regrettable” the UN Human Rights Committee had criticised Ireland in the past for its position on abortion.

She said the Human Rights Committee had “a duty to protect life” and should not seek “to pressure countries to remove human rights from certain sections of society”.

“The unborn child is a living human being and is entitled to all of the same rights as other members of the human family,” she said.

“It does not make sense to remove the fundamental right to life from an entire group of human beings.

“I hope the Human Rights Committee will reflect on its duty to comply with the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which, when properly applied, should act to protect human life especially the most vulnerable.”

Speaking afterwards, Ms Sherlock said the UN also heard testimony from other groups who spoke against abortion.

“One woman broke down in tears when speaking of how she regretted her abortion,” she said.

“Another participant called for a minute’s silence for the millions of babies who have lost their lives to abortion. It was a chilling reminder of the number of people who have not been given the chance to be born.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter