The Vatican reminded world leaders there is no international right to abortion at a global summit in Istanbul last month. The Holy See rejected European proposals to create a new right to abortion under the Geneva Conventions, also known as international humanitarian law or the laws of war.
The “Holy See emphasizes that there is no right to abortion under international human rights law or international humanitarian law and repeats the exhortation of the Secretary-General that States and non-State parties to armed conflict must refrain from ‘expansive and contentious interpretations’ of international law,” said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State.
The statement was meant to expose European efforts to define children in the womb who are conceived as a result of sexual violence in conflict as a “war wound” that must be aborted in order to “heal” the mother.
Parolin spoke at the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, a UN conference meant to bolster flagging humanitarian response to massive refugee flows and help 130 million people living in humanitarian crises.
Denmark announced it would show its leadership in humanitarianism by funding “sexual and reproductive health and rights, against gender based violence,” and “the right to have comprehensive sexuality education, and also the right for abortion.” To that end, Denmark said it would increase funding to UNFPA’s work in war-ravaged Syria. Denmark is a top donor to UNFPA, International Planned Parenthood, UN Women, and Amplify Change.
The Netherlands, another major UN donor, said, “women and girls should have access to sexual and reproductive health services and supplies including contraceptives, safe abortion, and post-rape care.”
The president of the powerful Oak Foundation said, “our first commitment is to support and fund organizations that provide or advocate for the right to comprehensive sexual and reproductive rights” which meant “the right to abortion as part of nondiscriminatory medical care under international humanitarian law.” The foundation funds the global abortion group Ipas and the Global Justice Center, the architect of the campaign for abortion rights under humanitarian law.
Their strategy targets a U.S. foreign aid law forbidding federal funding of abortion overseas. The Helms Amendment has come under attack as abortion groups hope to access millions more U.S. dollars before the end of the Obama administration.
But when six European nations told the U.S. last year at the Human Rights Council that the law violates the Geneva Conventions, the U.S. pushed back. At the Summit, the U.S. avoided the issue altogether in its prepared remarks.
Advocates for children conceived after sexual violence point out that the focus on aborting these children makes helping them and their mothers much harder. They report tens of thousands of such children suffer stigmatization and discrimination due to the circumstances of their births. Hundreds more are likely to suffer that fate who are being born as a result of violence by armed groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram.
The Holy See spoke out for these children, encouraging “religious institutions and Catholic organizations to accompany victims of rape in crises situations, who, in turn, need effective and ongoing psychological, spiritual and material assistance for themselves as well as their children, conceived and born of rape.”