Honduras Resists UN Abortion Pressure


Honduran lawmakers have refused to legalise abortion despite intense pressure from UN experts and international abortion activists. A proposed article of the new criminal code which would have removed the 1983 criminal ban on abortion was struck down by 77 votes to 5, with 8 abstentions.


Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández commented on the failed attempt to lift the ban on abortion saying, “Only God has the right to take one’s life.”


The majority had already expressed its intention to keep the law as it is, protecting life in all circumstances. The National party declared its resolute condemnation of any “legislative attempt to decriminalise abortion.” The party’s official statement says, “We believe in God” and “we love and defend life.” Even the Liberal party took the same position. Yuri Sabas, one of the Liberal Party leaders said, “We are a pro-life party.”


In recent years, Honduras, like Ireland, has come under unprecedented international pressure to legalise abortion. UN treaty bodies have been targeting Honduras pro-life laws for a decade.


A plethora of UN committees have claimed that international law requires liberal abortion laws. In 2006, the UN Human Rights Committee charged that Honduras violated international law for its “unduly restrictive legislation on abortion.” It recommended amending Honduran law “to help women.” The UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review and the committee that monitors the UN treaty against torture offered similar recommendations.


Last November, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, using its own 2014 statement on “sexual and reproductive health and rights,” recommended Honduras review its “restrictive interpretation of therapeutic abortion.”  The committee referenced “accepted circumstances under which abortion must be decriminalised,” even though abortion is not a human right.


In Geneva, UN experts issued a UN press release immediately prior to the bill’s final defeat. “Honduras must allow wider scope for legal abortions … so that women and girls can enjoy their full human rights to sexual and reproductive health.”


Before the vote, Amnesty International called the new bill a “historic opportunity.” According to Amnesty Director for the Americas, Erika Guevara-Rosas, criminalization of abortion is a “violation of human rights.” Human Rights Watch echoed the claim. Abortion activists promote similar pro-abortion legislation in Chile, El Salvador, and Dominican Republic.

Life News. May 5.

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