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“Abortion on demand” violates human rights

Publié le : 12 March 2013

 Abortion as it is practised generally today in the countries where it is legalised is contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, argues Grégor Puppinck, director of the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ).

In a study, published notably in the European Journal of International Law, he "re-establishes a proper understanding of human rights with regard to abortion", and "opposes those who wish to use human rights to impose abortion." "This is the first time that it is shown that ‘abortion on demand’ violates human rights," he points out. By "abortions on demand" he means the abortions that are carried out solely to satisfy the wish of the pregnant woman, and which are not justified by a health problem affecting her or any danger to her life, nor owing to the fact that her pregnancy is the result of rape. To reach the conclusion that the vast majority of abortions practised today, these "abortions on demand", violate human rights, Grégor Puppinck "identifies the rationale of the European Court of Human Rights" and "observes how it applies to the particular case of abortions on demand." 
 
Through its various rulings, the Court has explicitly declared that “abortion is not a right” (Silva Monteiro Martins Ribeiro v. Portugal) and that "the prohibition per se of abortion by a State does not violate the Convention (Silva Monteiro Martins Ribeiro v. Portugal andA. B. and C. v. Ireland)".
Grégor Puppinck insists: "it is indisputable, even by the promoters of a right to abortion, that there is no direct or indirect right to abortion on demand or for socio-economic reasons in any international or regional treaty, including the European Convention on Human Rights." Hence, the simple desire of the pregnant woman cannot be enough to justify an abortion according to these fundamental rights. Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights "guaranteeing personal autonomy, cannot be interpreted as conferring a right to abortion." (A. B. and C. v. Ireland §214).
Nevertheless, a State can authorise an abortion to guarantee other fundamental rights such as the right to life or health of the pregnant woman. But while a State can authorise it, its “margin of appreciation is not unlimited,” because “the Court must supervise whether the interference constitutes a proportionate balancing of the competing interests involved.” And notably, "the legitimate interest of society in limiting the number of abortions" (Odièvre v. France§ 45), the "protection of morals" (Open Door and Dublin Well Woman v. Ireland§ 63; A. B. and C. v. Ireland §§ 222-227), the respect of the prohibition of torture (Boso v. Italy), the right to respect for the family life of the potential father or the potential grandparents (X. v. the United Kingdomor P. and S. v. Poland), or the right to freedom of conscience of health professionals…
 
To those who object that unborn children are not persons and hence cannot be protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, Grégor Puppinck recalls that the Court has always refused to exclude the unborn child from the field of application of the Convention: the unborn child "requires protection in the name of human dignity.”(Vo v France § 85).
 
To those who explain that abortion on demand is included in the human rights because the Court has never condemned a State that authorises it, Grégor Puppinck replies that the Court has never ruled on the question simply because the direct victims of abortion are not born and cannot bring a case before the Court and, furthermore, the opponents of abortion are not regarded as victims. Until now, he points out, "only pregnant women have been heard by the Court, involving the difficulty of access to abortion, malpractice, or physical complications."
To fight against this violation of fundamental rights embodied in "abortion on demand", Grégor Puppinck explains that the potential father or grandparents have a role to play. Indeed, they are also entitled to bring their case before the Court to prevent the "abortion on demand" of the woman in question in order to save the life of their unborn child/grandchild. He advises them that they should request the Court to take urgent measures to prevent this violation of their fundamental rights via the procedure described in article 39 of the Court’s rules, demanding respect of the right to life (article 2), of the right to physical integrity and dignity (article 3) and of the right to family life (article 8) for their unborn child.

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