There is no such thing as a “right to abortion.” There is, however, such a thing as “reproductive rights,” though the misuse of such a phrase on the national and international level has tainted it with such immoral connotations that it is almost impossible to use.
For example, who would not acknowledge the right people have to be free of the type of coercion we hear about in the “one-child policy” of China? The freedom to seek to raise a family, with the number of children one desires, within the framework of moral law, is a right that needs to be defended from efforts to coerce one either to have or not to have children.
But there is a big difference between the choice to have a child and the choice to kill a child. Because abortion kills a child who already exists, it is in no way a “right.”
The language of the supporters of legal abortion in our country includes many references to “rights.” This is true also on an international level. At the present time, moreover, abortion supporters are seeking to declare abortion to be an international right and even a “human right.”
What is the purpose of an attempt like that, and how is it being made?
The purpose is to circumvent whatever progress may be made on national levels to maintain or restore legal protection to the pre-born. Many countries still have such protection on some level.
But many more are drawn into the fierce battle over whether that should remain the case. Each side, moreover, sees the right they are defending as an absolute. No matter what the majority may say to the contrary, we will always maintain that the right to life must be protected.
Abortion supporters have also admitted that whatever the majority may say to the contrary, the “right” to abortion must be protected. With a world made ever smaller by modern communication, the battle is more and more about the international right to life.
The effort to make abortion an international “right” is being advanced by means of United Nations Conferences, and by a particular combination of phrases and declarations. “Women’s rights are human rights” is one of the code phrases now used in such circles.
When this is combined with the assertion, “Women have reproductive rights” and the further assertion that “the human rights of women are universal,” then despite the truths that can be found in each of these statements, the door is also opened to the conclusion that the right to obtain an abortion is a reproductive right which is universal and, in fact, a human right.
A country, then, which protects its unborn children by law, would be seen as offending human rights which should be enforced internationally.
From the point of view of the pro-life movement, then, our ultimate goal in regard to law is not only an eventual amendment to the US Constitution and other national constitutions, protecting the children in the womb. It is, rather, an international law protecting pre-born children all over the world.
(Father Pavone is the international director of Priests for Life).