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Press Conference on Launch of ‘San Jose Articles’

6 October 2011
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Launch of ‘San Jose Articles’


Pro-life Government, academic, legal and civil society representatives presented at Headquarters today a new declaration intended to help Governments guarantee the rights of unborn children and reject pressure to adopt laws that would legalize or de-criminalize abortion.

At a press conference sponsored by the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See, Grover Joseph Rees III, a former United States Special Representative for social issues to the United Nations, said the document listed nine articles that provided “ammunition” to the growing number of countries, particularly small developing nations dependent on international aid, being bullied into believing that they must abandon pro-life policies in order to be in compliance with their international treaty obligations.

“We think this is a solid, thoughtful document,” Mr. Rees, also a former Ambassador to Timor-Leste, said of the document, known as the San Jose Articles.  “We hope it will be helpful as the debate goes forward.”

Austin Ruse, President of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, agreed, saying the document contained “plenty of language” that officials could use to promote and protect the rights of unborn children.  Some 30 parliamentarians, academics, human rights lawyers, physicians, public-policy experts and representatives of non-governmental organizations from the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America and Asia had signed the articles at a conference in March in San Jose, Costa Rica, he added.  Among other things, they aimed to ensure that national laws and policies protected the rights of human beings from the moment of conception, establish that there was no human right to abortion under international law, and dissuade aid donors from funding abortions, or making acceptance of them a condition for receiving aid.

“There is no [United Nations] treaty that even hints at abortion,” said Mr. Rees.  Mr. Ruse added that if the matter were put to a vote, the General Assembly would overwhelmingly reject a resolution on the international right to abortion.  However, they said that the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women — which monitors compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women — had directed 93 signatory countries to amend their laws so as to guarantee a woman’s right to abortion.

Robert George, Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program at Princeton University, said the San Jose Articles and their promoters aimed to defend the dignity of all human beings, beginning at conception, and to protect it from “a partisan cause” seeking to hijack great moral principles and international law to justify the killing of unborn children.

Asked to specify what United Nations treaties and officials had recently pointed to a right to abortion under international law, Mr. Ruse said that a few weeks ago, the Special Rapporteur on Health and the High Commissioner for Human Rights had made statements to that effect.  In addition, Kosovo, Timor-Leste, Kenya and other nations that had signed United Nations treaties were increasingly being told that they must legally uphold abortion rights based on non-discrimination, public-health and reproductive-health grounds.  Mr. Rees added that the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) were also promoting abortion rights.

Responding to a question about emergency contraception, Mr. Rees said the San Jose Articles did not discuss the subject.  He reiterated, however, that life began at conception and anything ending it, including in its early stages, was a form of abortion.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.