GENEVA, November 30, 2004 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A United Nations committee has urged two of the five countries in the world which prohibit all abortions to legalize abortion. Chile and Malta were before the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, earlier this month. The committee ruled on Friday, that the countries should allow abortion in cases of rape and incest.
The committee is set up to monitor compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR). Like all other UN documents, the CESCR does not officially contain clauses requiring the legalization of abortion.
Nonetheless, in official recommendations to Chile, released November 26, the CESCR committee said, "The Committee recommends that the State party revise its legislation and decriminalize abortion in cases of therapeutic abortions and when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest."
Commenting on the UN abortion push, Jorge Reyes, the lawyer and coordinator for the Chilean Pro-Life Network, told LifeSiteNews.com that the committee of "experts" was acting beyond its competence. "They are not allowed to interpret the Convention," Reyes said.
Reyes, who represents 35 pro-life and pro-family NGO's in the country told LifeSiteNews.com he was also concerned about the official response of Chilean government officials to the UN committee. He said that the government's responses did not represent the thoughts of the vast majority of Chileans. Reyes said that due to the pro-life constitution, those government officials would now have "to render serious account in Chile."
Reyes concluded that the incident was a sufficient reason to launch a "formal protest on the part of our country" to the United Nations.
The CESCR committee used similar language in recommending Malta allow abortion. "The Committee urges the State party to review its legislation on abortion and consider exceptions to the general prohibition of abortion for cases of therapeutic abortions and when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest," said the Committee report.
The Public Relations Office of the Archbishop of Malta rejected the UN committee's advice. In comments to LifeSiteNews.com, Charles Buttigieg, spokesman for Malta Archbishop Joseph Mercieca said, "God alone is the author and owner of life. Moreover, every human being has an inalienable right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death. This right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation. The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being."
Jim Hughes, Vice President of the International Right to Life Federation said that the CESCR committee members should be held accountable for their actions. "It's just another example of big brother interfering in the democratic rights of free citizens," Hughes told LifeSiteNews.com.