Poor Decision-Making: Abortion and American Human Rights Violations

The most prolific human rights organizations in the United States and abroad consider equal and unrestricted access to all maternal care, including abortion, as a human right.

With us, the American Civil Liberties Union fought for abortion rights since the 1950s, and Physicians for Human Rights has reaffirmed this position as recently as May 2022. Abroad, the Human Rights Watch, Amnesty Internationaland the World Health Organization all supported the same thing: access to abortion is a human right. The United Nations Human Rights Committee, the official UN body designed to uphold and protect these freedoms, wrote in a 2018 statement that “States parties shall provide safe, legal and effective access to abortion” when the pregnant person is at risk of harm, physical or otherwise, and that such parties should not take steps to criminalize abortion, which would inherently favor unsafe abortion Abortion.

The positions on abortion are therefore clear: In the eyes of the international community, the decision of the Supreme Court recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson is a violation of the current international consensus on abortion.

The language of the UN declaration, however, is important: “States parties”. The United States, by its own choice, is a party to the treaties this statement refers to, and it was even a member of the UNHRC until June 2018. Yet the nation blatantly refuses to comply. These two words draw attention to a hypocrisy at the heart of the United States’ position in world politics and in particular in international human rights law: the United States has, for decades, spoken out in for the advancement of human rights, women’s rights and non-discrimination abroad, while reserving the right to enact contrary legislation at home. This is nothing less than a calculated lie, and one that deserves more attention in national political discussions.

A worrying start

The influence of the United States on international human rights law and its commitment to this hypocrisy goes back to the first prototypes of the United Nations. President Wilson’s League of Nations was a failurebut it was a failure that cemented a policy position taken by the United States government in international law time and time again.

From the start, the idea tenuous significant, even unilateral, bipartisan support for the US political system; it was not just a liberal experience. Moreover, it is an American, President Wilson, who spearhead the push for a League of Nations. There were also two Americans, Wilson and his adviser Edward House, in the group of politicians who wrote the League’s founding document, with both playing a leading role in drafting the document and being named first on the list of dignitaries. An American-led and heavily American-influenced team created the foundation for the League’s existence, both in writing and writing.

However, in a move that endlessly despaired Wilson, the United States Senate, invigorated by a conservative attack on the League on both ideological and partisan grounds, voted against ratification of the Treaty of Versailles and membership of the League of Nations. The League ultimately failed in its primary mission of preventing another global conflict like World War I, so it could be argued that America’s decision not to join was of no long-term consequence – or, conversely, that the League without the United States would never have worked. at all. Nonetheless, this pattern would continue to repeat itself in international law: the United States supports, and perhaps even spearheads, initiatives to protect human life and liberty internationally, but when the time to adopt these principles for ourselves, we refuse.

A pattern of non-compliance

This same pattern appeared repeatedly throughout the 20th century. An American politician, Eleanor Roosevelt, initiated the move towards a United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, a notably non-binding declaration – as opposed to a treaty, which would have required compliance with the law (at least in theory). The United States delegation voted in favour.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, a legally binding treaty based on the Declaration of Human Rights, was not so readily accepted. the United States, under Democratic and Republican presidents, refuse to ratify the treaty until 1992, under the first Bush administration. Additionally, the United States applied more reservations, understandings, and declarations to the treaty upon its ratification of the treaty than any other nation before or since, primarily in order to reserve the right to execute minors.

Yet, despite finally accepting the pact, the reservations and all, the United States refuse to modify its national laws to adapt to the rights guaranteed by the treaty. The United Nations Human Rights Committee highlighted this attitude of non-compliance in a 2006 statement, imploring to the “State Party” to take corrective measures. At present, no such action has been taken, and instead numerous pieces of legislation in direct violation of the spirit, if not the wording, of the treaty have been proposed and passed by the legislature.

In fact, according to the majority opinions of district court cases Buell v. Mitchell and Hain v. Gibson, US citizens are not automatically permitted to use the International Covenant as a basis for legal action to protect their human rights. The United States helped create a system to protect the rights of the human individual from violation, but its politicians, though actively praise this system, have refused any possibility of applying the legal framework of this system at the national level, rendering it largely ineffective.

The current reality

It is in this tradition of blatant disregard for international human rights law that Americans have helped influence what is now the current conservative legal push around abortion. The UN Human Rights Committee has made it is abundantly clear that the right to abortion must be protected as a human right, but the political system of the United States – especially its conservative factions – has made no problem espousing the virtue of international human rights law humans. They even claim that America has a duty to protect when other countries ignore it. Yet they are perfectly content to ignore it at home, especially when it comes to abortion. It is the most egregious of hypocrisies for American politicians, especially conservatives, to portray the United States as the land of the free while knowing full well that what they are pushing for directly violates international human rights law. ‘man.

There are only two solutions: Either the US government, left and right, takes active steps to better respect the treaties it has signed and the systems it has helped influence, or it becomes more open with the fact that many laws pushed for and passed by its conservative factions run directly counter to these treaties and systems. Until then, the United States will continue to appear unwilling to treat its own citizens with the respect it has previously claimed is due to all citizens of the world. In a disturbing twist, the phrase “America is the policeman of the world” can take on a new meaning: not that the nation is uniquely prepared and willing to enforce the moral law, but that it believes that because of its power, it can act above.

Image by Colin Lloyd is licensed under the Unsplash License.

About Michael Murphy

Check Also

Indiana passes restrictive abortion law, causing economic fallout

Comment this story Comment Indiana’s sweeping new abortion ban produced immediate political and economic fallout …