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U.N. report: Bans on abortion are 'torture'

Posted By Drew Zahn On 03/31/2013 @ 10:56 pm In Front Page,Health,World | No Comments

Denying a woman access to an otherwise legal abortion is “tantamount to torture,” claims a designated United Nations expert in an official report to the international body.

What’s more, the expert asserts, banning all abortions – including in the case of rape – may be “torture” too, whether the bans are legally passed or not.

The U.N.’s special rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Mendez, issued his annual report to the U.N.’s Human Rights Council in February, in which he specifically focused on “certain forms of abuses in health-care settings that may cross a threshold of mistreatment that is tantamount to torture.”

Mendez lists as health-care “tortures” a host of “reproductive rights violations,” including forced sterilization, female genital mutilation and “denial of legally available health services such as abortion and post-abortion care.”

“International and regional human rights bodies have begun to recognize that abuse and mistreatment of women seeking reproductive health services can cause tremendous and lasting physical and emotional suffering, inflicted on the basis of gender,” Mendez notes.

He further calls into question all “absolute bans” on abortion.

“In the landmark decision of K.N.L.H. v. Peru, the Human Rights Committee deemed the denial of a therapeutic abortion [for a rape victim] a violation of the individual’s right to be free from ill-treatment,” Mendez notes. “The Committee against Torture has repeatedly expressed concerns about restrictions on access to abortion and about absolute bans on abortion as violating the prohibition of torture.”

Mendez further declared it “torture” for states to require a transgendered man, for example, to undergo genital alteration surgery in order to be legally classified a woman. He cites 20 of the 50 U.S. states require transgender persons to undergo “gender-confirming surgery” before being able to change their legal sex.

In 2011, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on reproductive rights, Anand Grover, filed a similar report demanding the decriminalization of abortion and emergency contraception worldwide.

Stefano Gennarini, director of the Center for Legal Studies at C-FAM, however, told LifeSiteNews that the special rapporteurs are merely attempting to “fabricate obligations on states, or create new obligations on states that never agreed to them in any binding international agreement, no in any consensus document.”

“It’s part of a broader effort of human rights groups that are in cahoots with the office of the High Commissioner of Human rights to make abortion into a human right,” Gennarini said.

The pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights praised Mendez’ report and went so far as to take direct credit for his findings.

“The Center has been promoting reproductive rights violations as torture or ill-treatment for over a decade,” the organization touts on its website. “The Center brought these examples to the attention of the special rapporteur at a convening it hosted in March 2012, in another session hosted by the special rapporteur in December and through written submissions provided to the special rapporteur as he prepared this report. The special rapporteur incorporated many of the Center’s findings and cited many of the Center’s cases in his report.”

Mendez’ report classified instances of medical “torture” into five categories:

  • “Compulsory detention for medical conditions,” such as forcing a drug user into a rehab center against his will;
  • “Reproductive rights violations,” including abusive and humiliating treatment of women seeking reproductive health services;
  • “Denial of pain treatment,” including countries who through “deficiency in drug supply management” can’t afford adequate morphine for their terminally ill;
  • “Persons with psychosocial disabilities” being neglected or detained involuntarily in treatment centers;
  • and “marginalized groups,” such as AIDS patients turned away from hospitals, drug addicts allowed to go into withdrawal to force confessions, sex workers facing mandatory HIV testing, transgender individuals compelled to have gender-reassignment surgery in order to be recorded as another gender and people with disabilities facing forced-sterilization laws.

“The prohibition of torture is one of the few absolute and non-derogable human rights, a matter of jus cogens, a peremptory norm of customary international law,” Mendez reports. “The right to an adequate standard of health care (‘right to health’) determines the States’ obligations.”


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