HUMAN LIFE INTERNATIONAL STATEMENT*
BEFORE THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
OF THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
NORTH AMERICA REGIONAL CONSULTATION HEARINGS
WITH CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2017
Good morning. My name is Stephen Phelan. I am the director of Missions Communications for Human Life International (HLI).
On behalf of HLI’s president, Father Shenan Boquet, I would like to thank the members of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States (OAS) for the opportunity to provide commentaries regarding its strategic plan for 2017-2020 (1), seeking, as it has stated, points of “reflection and debate among key actors in the human rights arena.” (2)
The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights draft Strategic Plan
The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights draft Strategic Plan that has been sent to the CSOs for their comments states that its mission is to promote the observance of human rights (3), and that its vision is to develop an effective protection system of human rights, for the benefit of the OAS Member States and all persons in the Americas. (4)
In the same draft Strategic Plan, among a list of groups also provided, who are understood to be a priority in seeking to help them with the recognition of their human rights, are the following: children and the elderly. (5)
Human Life International is concerned about all violations against the rights and dignity of human persons and the family.
At this moment, Human Life International will only address the urgent need to end policies that favor the killing of some of the most vulnerable members of our societies: preborn children who are killed by abortion and of the elderly and the sick by euthanasia, that are increasingly being considered by countries in the Americas.
This urgent need can be met by the OAS Inter-American Commission of Human Rights through its recognition of abortion and euthanasia as the most serious violations that can be committed against the most fundamental human right, the right to life, the basis of all other rights. Indeed, the Commission’s own documents lay the groundwork for a robust defense of all human life at every stage of development.
For example, we find in the preamble of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ own Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty, that “everyone has the inalienable right to respect for his life, a right that cannot be suspended for any reason.” And “That application of the death penalty has irrevocable consequences, forecloses the correction of judicial error, and precludes any possibility of changing or rehabilitating those convicted…”
Similarly, in the American Convention on Human Rights Article 4.5, we find “Capital punishment shall not be imposed upon persons who, at the time the crime was committed, were under 18 years of age or over 70 years of age; nor shall it be applied to pregnant women.”
It is in these principles we find the recognition of the injustice of intentionally taking the life of a human being, for any reason, and a special recognition in the desire to protect pregnant mothers that the life they carry is innocent and worthy of protection. It is worth noting further here that the United States and Canada initially did not sign and or ratify the convention because they believed, correctly, that this language would prohibit procured abortion.
The OAS Charter provides for the establishment of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (6), and the OAS American Declaration for the Rights and Duties of Man provides for the recognition of fundamental human rights, including the right to life. (7)
Between 1945 and 1948, the diplomats of the countries in the Americas began to prepare the Inter-American documentation on human rights. They were deeply concerned about the grave human rights violations that occurred during World War II. (8) The atrocities and violations perpetrated against human beings during World War II were addressed at the Nuremberg Trials that were held from 1945 to 1949, where crimes against humanity were declared in relation to the human right to life, which included abortion and euthanasia.
During the Nuremberg Trial, the case against Nazi officials for the crime of abortion included both voluntary and coerced abortion cases. The prosecution presented their case with the clear assertion that abortion ends the life of a child who is not yet born, a fact that was not contested. (9) Additionally, it was implicitly recognized that, even in cases of voluntary abortion, the mothers of unborn children suffered from the war which rendered them abortion victims as well. (10)
During the Nuremberg Trial, the case against Nazi officials for the crime of euthanasia – that is, the deliberate and systematic killing of the elderly and severely disabled – was established as well. (11) Interestingly, when the Nazi officials communicated the news of their deaths to family members, they were told that they had died of natural causes, (12) which reveals that the Nazi officials were clearly aware that what they were doing was wrong.
Natural law establishes that there are laws pertaining to the nature of the human being. (13) It is understood that international law must be guided by natural law, since all nations can agree that it provides a sure guide in the formulation of treaties for the definition and protection of authentic human rights. (14)
The protections of the laws that afford the respect and protection of human life from the attacks of abortion and euthanasia are being removed from unborn children and the elderly in the Americas. These actions constitute crimes against humanity.
We earnestly ask that the OAS Inter-American Commission of Human Rights promote and defend the foundational right to life of every human person from conception to natural death.
Thank you very much.
*This is the full prepared statement. The statement read live at the event was abridged due to time constraint.
1. IACHR Continues Work on the Participatory Development of its Strategic Plan and Invites Civil Society to Regional Consultations; media release; January 19, 2017; Inter-American Commission of Human Rights; Organization of American States. http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/media_center/PReleases/2017/003.asp
2. IACHR Continues Work on the Participatory Development of its Strategic Plan and Invites Civil Society to Regional Consultations; media release; paragraph two; January 19, 2017; Inter-American Commission of Human Rights; Organization of American States. http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/media_center/PReleases/2017/003.asp
3. Regarding its mission, it is stated that it seeks to “(p)romote the observance and defense of human rights according to the highest international standards to safeguard the dignity of persons….” Strategic Plan 2017-2020; draft for consultation; section I. Mission; page 3; Inter-American Commission of Human Rights; Organization of American States; attachment sent to participant CSO for the regional consultation hearings 2017; in an email sent to HLI dated Monday, February 6, 2017.
4. Regarding its vision, it is stated that it seeks to “…. lead……in the effective…. protection of human rights…. with emphasis on persons in situations of vulnerability, through the……application of the highest standards which guarantee the human rights of all persons.” Strategic Plan 2017-2020; draft for consultation; section II. Vision; page 3; Inter-American Commission of Human Rights; Organization of American States; attachment sent to participant CSO for the regional consultation hearings 2017; in an email sent to HLI dated Monday, February 6, 2017.
5. Strategic Plan 2017-2020; draft for consultation; section IV. Priority Issues; page 3; Inter-American Commission of Human Rights; Organization of American States; attachment sent to participant CSO for the regional consultation hearings 2017; in an email sent to HLI dated Monday, February 6, 2017.
6. “The American States reaffirm…the fundamental rights of the individual…” Principles; Chapter II; Article 3(l); Charter; 1948; Organization of American States.; as amended. http://www.oas.org/en/sla/dil/inter_american_treaties_A-41_charter_OAS.asp#Chapter_XV
“There shall be an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, whose principal function shall be to promote the observance and protection of human rights…” The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights; Chapter XV; Article 106; Charter; 1948; Organization of American States; as amended. http://www.oas.org/en/sla/dil/inter_american_treaties_A-41_charter_OAS.asp#Chapter_XV
7. “Every human being has the right to life, liberty and the security of his person.” Article 1; Chapter 1. Rights; The American Declaration for the Rights and Duties of Man; 1948; Organization of American States. http://cidh.oas.org/Basicos/English/Basic2.American%20Declaration.htm
8. “In light of the devastation caused by the Second World War, the American States began to examine the problems of the war and to prepare for peace”; Additionally, in 1945, at the Inter-American Conference on Problems of War and Peace, a document titled “International Protection for the Essential Rights of Man” was approved and which assured “the adherence of the American Republics to the principles established in international law for safeguarding the essential rights of man.” Chapter II: The Inter-American System for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights; Section B: The American Declaration for the Rights and Duties of Man; page 5; 2012; Basic Documents Pertaining to Human Rights in the Inter-American System; Organization of American States. http://www.corteidh.or.cr/docs/libros/docsbas2012_eng.pdf
9. “An important issue at trial was the question of whether abortions conducted with the mother’s consent were international crimes. Both voluntary and involuntary abortions may have been criminal in nature, and both were crimes under (national) law, but were both punishable under international law as crimes against humanity? Implicit in charging voluntary abortion as a crime is the premise that unborn children are human beings and that abortion is therefore a crime against the unborn child. The prosecution expressly argued during the course of the trial that abortion is a crime against the unborn child.” Nuremberg and the Crime of Abortion; Jeffrey Tuomala; Liberty University Law School; Chapter IV. Abortion and the NMT; Section A. The Indictment in Greifelt; Subsection 1. Crimes Against Humanity; page 337; Winter 2011 Volume 42 issue; pages 283-394; University of Toledo Law Review; http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/lusol_fac_pubs/48/. See also: “ ‘Even if it be assumed that all [Nazi] abortions were voluntary, they still constitute a crime, ‘ Associate Counsel Harold Neely said at the Nuremberg Trials. Prosecutors classified abortion under any circumstances as a ‘crime against humanity.’ One of the defendants even admitted it constituted ‘a special violation against life’.”; Forced abortion should be remembered as a Nazi crime: Holocaust panel; Ben Johnson; Lifesitenews; December 10, 2014; United States.
10. “It is not hard to imagine the situational pressures a (foreign) worker enslaved in Germany or one of the occupied territories would experience that would induce her to opt for an abortion. Nor is it hard to imagine that the pressure placed on her would be considerably more than husbands, parents, boyfriends and others in contemporary society might place on her. Although this passage from the judgment referring to Nazi abortion policies focused on the ill-treatment of women, it referred to the mothers and fathers as the ‘child’s parentage.’ And while the judgment did not assert that abortions were physically forced upon these women, it certainly portrayed the situational duress in which they were placed. Even when abortions are free of coercion, the woman, unlike the abortion doctor, is usually viewed as much a victim as a perpetrator of the crime. In this wartime context, it was even more likely that she was viewed as a victim.” Nuremberg and the Crime of Abortion; Jeffrey Tuomala; Liberty University Law School; Chapter III. Abortion and the IMT; Section D. The IMT Judgement; Subsection 2. Abortion Activities as a Mark of a Criminal Organization; page 332; Winter 2011 Volume 42 issue; pages 283-394; University of Toledo Law Review. http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/lusol_fac_pubs/48/
11. “…. (The Nazi medical professionals) …..were connected with plans and enterprises involving the execution of the so-called ‘euthanasia’ program of the German Reich in the course of which the defendants herein murdered hundreds of thousands of human beings, including nationals of German-occupied countries. This program involved the systematic and secret execution of the aged, insane, incurably ill, of deformed children, and other persons, by gas, lethal injections, and diverse other means in nursing homes, hospitals, and asylums.” The Nuremberg Trials: The Doctors Trial; Section: Count Two – War Crimes; Subsection 9; see also: Section: Count Three: Crimes Against Humanity. http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/nuremberg/NurembergDoctorTrial.html
See also: The man who risked everything to oppose the culture of death; Chuck Colson; Breakpoint; Lifesitenews; January 24, 2011; United States. https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/the-man-who-risked-everything-to-oppose-the-culture-of-death
Nazi Euthanasia Program; Brynnah McFarland; Rutgers University; 2013-2016; United States.
See: Euthanasia Holocaust was not about ‘Nazis,’ but eugenics enthusiasts: and now they’re back; Blog; National Review; July 17, 2013; United States. https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/euthanasia-holocaust-not-about-nazis
12. “The relatives of these victims were informed that they died from natural causes.” The Nuremberg Trials: The Doctors Trial; Section: Count Two – War Crimes; Subsection 9; see also: Section: Count Three – Crimes Against Humanity. http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/nuremberg/NurembergDoctorTrial.html ;
13. Fundamentals of International Law; Jude Ibegbu; Chapter 1. General Notion of International Law; Section 1.4. Basis of International Law; Subsection 1.4.2. Natural Law; The Edwin Mellen Press; page 27; 1999; United States. http://www.worldcat.org/title/fundamentals-of-international-law/oclc/40682247
14. Fundamentals of International Law; Jude Ibegbu; Chapter 1. General Notion of International Law; Section 1.4. Basis of International Law; Subsection 1.4.2. Natural Law; The Edwin Mellen Press; pages 27-28; 1999; United States. http://www.worldcat.org/title/fundamentals-of-international-law/oclc/40682247