Senators mark 1st anniversary of declaration rejecting push to declare abortion an ‘international right’

CNA Staff   By CNA Staff

The United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland. / Nexus 7/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Nov 2, 2021 / 05:00 am (CNA).

U.S. senators have celebrated the first anniversary of a declaration affirming that there is “no international right to abortion.”

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) introduced a concurrent resolution on Oct. 28 marking a year since the launch of the Geneva Consensus Declaration on Promoting Women’s Health and Strengthening the Family.

The resolution had 14 cosponsors in the Senate and Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) introduced a companion resolution in the House with 29 cosponsors.

The Geneva Consensus Declaration was signed on Oct. 22, 2020, by 32 countries. Other nations have since endorsed the declaration, but the United States has withdrawn its support.

Daines said: “Last year, under the leadership of President Trump, the U.S. led a global coalition to reaffirm that all life is sacred and there is no international right to abortion, to protect the family, and to defend the sovereign right of nations to enact laws that advance these core values, without external pressure.”

“Despite President Biden’s withdrawal, the Geneva Consensus Declaration coalition has continued to grow to now 36 signatory countries, which are committed to working together against the imposition of an anti-life, anti-family agenda.”

Lankford said: “Honoring the most basic right of an individual to live should not be controversial, but unfortunately President Biden is determined to be the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history, as demonstrated by his decision to remove the United States from the declaration and promote abortion in other countries.”

“This resolution celebrates the historic nature of the Geneva Consensus Declaration and affirms the commitments we made with our like-minded friends a year ago. Pro-life Americans will continue to defend the basic right to life for all individuals.”

Last month, Guatemala became the latest country to sign the declaration.

Marking the occasion, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said that efforts to promote abortion as an international right were “absurd and without any foundation in law, science or philosophy.”

The declaration’s signatories had initially planned to meet at the 2020 World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. Although the gathering did not take place in-person due to the coronavirus pandemic, they decided to press ahead with the declaration.

The U.S. hosted the signing ceremony on Oct. 22, 2020.

Alex Azar, the then Secretary of Health and Human Services, said during the event: “Today we put down a clear marker; no longer can U.N. agencies reinterpret and misinterpret agreed-upon language without accountability.”

Then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also spoke at the signing ceremony, calling the declaration a “deep and personal commitment to protect human dignity” and “the culmination of lots of hard work.”

The declaration states “that there is no international right to abortion, nor any international obligation on the part of states to finance or facilitate abortion, consistent with the long-standing international consensus that each nation has the sovereign right to implement programs and activities consistent with their laws and policies.”

In a letter dated Feb. 12, 2021, the United States Mission to the United Nations announced that the U.S. had “rescinded its co-sponsorship and endorsement” of the declaration.

The letter said: “Upon reviewing the declaration, we have reservations that aspects of the document are not consistent with our current administration’s policies, including those relating to women’s health, LGBTQI equality, and gender equality.”

“On Jan. 28, President Biden signed a presidential memorandum which, inter alia, directs the relevant heads of U.S. agencies to ‘withdraw co-sponsorship and signature from the declaration and notify other co-sponsors and signatories to the declaration and other appropriate parties of the United States’ withdrawal.’ Accordingly, the United States hereby discontinues our participation in the Geneva Consensus Declaration.”

Elyssa Koren, director of United Nations advocacy for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian legal group, said: “The anniversary, and recent addition of new signatories, demonstrates that this initiative is alive and well even without the support of the U.S.”

“While U.S. withdrawal was undoubtedly a blow, the coalition of governments surrounding the declaration remains united and vibrant under the leadership of Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, and Uganda, its founding cosponsors.”

Koren went on: “Now, more than ever, governments, and in particular those of the developing world, are subject to a deluge of coercive funding and other pressure tactics relating to abortion.”

“For instance, as stated in the newly released strategy for gender equality and gender equity, one of the main priorities of the Biden administration is to ‘defend the constitutional right to safe and legal abortion in the United States, established in Roe v. Wade, and promote access to sexual and reproductive health and rights both at home and abroad.’”

“The exportation of the abortion agenda is a prime concern for the administration, supported by billions in highly coercive development assistance dollars.”

She concluded: “As a clear repudiation of incursions on national sovereignty relating to abortion, the declaration enables signatory governments to stand together in resisting all too frequent pressure to change their laws on abortion.”

“Also, governments should be able to make use of this platform to take practical action in international fora — for instance, they can band together to resist the illicit promotion of abortion in United Nations resolutions relating to development and human rights at the upcoming conclusion of the General Assembly’s Third Committee session.”

“Fueled by the momentum of the anniversary celebrations, the hope is that the Geneva Consensus signatories will be able to carry forward the pro-life initiatives previously undertaken by the Trump administration at this session.”


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