Category archives: Human Rights

FRC brief in Irish abortion case

by Bill Saunders

November 18, 2008

Last week, FRC filed a friend of the court brief in a case before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The ECHR is considering a challenge to Ireland’s laws on abortion, which restrict access to abortion unless the woman’s life is in danger. FRC was one of 3 groups invited to file an unusual “joint” brief by the ECHR, and the only pro-life group in the USA invited to do so. (The others were SPUC of the United Kingdom and the European Center for Law & Justice from Brussels.)

The case is important because the European system of jurisprudence is quite limited when it comes to social issues. In other words, though there is a European Convention of Human Rights that binds all European nations that have ratified it (including Ireland), the resolution of “social issues” is left to the laws of the individual state to decide. Thus, it should not be possible for the ECHR to create a European-wide “right” to abortion.

Of course, the U.S. Supreme Court created a right to abortion where none existed under our Constitution. Thus, just as our Court ignored the wording of the Constitution and principles of federalism to overturn the laws of all 50 states on abortion, it is conceivable the ECHR could do the same thing. In fact, pro-abortion groups have filed briefs urging it to do so. Thus, it was important for FRC - in alliance with our good friends of the Alliance Defense Fund - to file a brief urging the ECHR to stay out of these matters and to leave the resolution of the issue to the member states. Click here for the brief itself.

Abortionists are Human Rights Defenders? Seriously?

by David Christensen

October 28, 2008

The pro-abortion group Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and its partners requested and were granted a hearing today at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Organization of American States according to their recent newsletter (see p. 2).

The Commission will hold a hearing today titled the “Risks and vulnerabilities affecting defenders of women’s rights in the Americas,” raising the specter of human rights activists and defenders of women’s rights being “affected”. You can review the Commission program here.

But what is CRR’s goal? Legal rights for women? Is it the legalization of abortion? CRR is more ambitious. Their newsletter references a previous letter they sent to the United Nations which makes it clear that they are not so much trying to protect human rights defenders or defenders of women’s rights as they are trying to get international legal bodies to include abortion providers under the legal designation of “human rights defender.” If they are successful, abortion providers would be protected under the 1999 UN Declaration of Human Rights Defenders.

It would be a travesty for international bodies to equate those who perform abortions, including those who perform partial birth abortions, with those who advocate fundamental human rights of others.

CRR in their letter raises violence against abortion providers as one of their key arguments. Violence against abortionists is wrong and should be condemned. But CRR goes much further. They are in fact making the case that any restrictions that would affect abortion providers’ practices would constitute an abuse of human rights defenders.

Indeed, CRR spends considerable time defending Dr. George Tiller of Kansas, an abortionist known for his late-term abortions (and advertising internationally for his services). It is odd that they would single out Dr. Tiller as a human rights paragon, until you realize that they oppose even peaceful protests at abortion clinics such as his, even when they acknowledge the fact that such protests are constitutionally protected.

CRR also opposes state laws that would require abortion clinics to have the same health standards as ambulatory clinics—regulations that would actually protect the health of women obtaining abortions. Indeed, CRR goes so far as asking the UN to “investigate” the United States for state and federal laws that conflict with their views. Again, violence against abortionists is wrong, period. But peaceful protests? Parental notification laws? Laws ensuring medical the competency of abortion providers? They want a UN investigation. Perhaps even more brazen, CRR wants international bodies to investigate cases of “smear campaigns” against abortion providers, in which any public campaign against such abortionists occur. They oppose the mere existence of legal restrictions because it would be burdensome to the abortionist, something most people think might be legitimate for physicians performing surgery on their patients. What about legal liability? Nope, CRR wants none of that either. The kicker may be that CRR wants these international bodies to impose fines on states that who disagree with them. Why? So they force local law enforcement agencies to implement “human rights teaching” on abortion in their training programs.

And these are people that many pro-choicers in Congress have tried to get you to fund with your taxes. I suppose if you can cast this asprotecting human rights defenders, it might just work.

FRC Submits Comments to HHS on Conscience Protection

by Chris Gacek

October 5, 2008

      On August 26, 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) asked the public for comments about rules it proposed to protect the rights of conscience of health care providers - in particular, to permit them to refuse to assist in, provide, or refer patients for abortions.  These conscience rights were created by three historic federal statutes known more commonly as the Church, Coats, and Weldon Amendments.

     The Family Research Council and several other groups filed comments on September 25th responding to HHS.  Get a copy of them here.

     Here is a summary of our main points:

  • HHS’s proposed rules (regulations) are needed because many participants in the health care system are violating the Church, Coats, and Weldon Amendments. Many intended beneficiaries of these landmark civil rights laws - intended to protect health care providers’ right of religious and moral conscience - do not know their rights under the law. HHS regulations are needed to clarify the extent of these statutory protections.
  • HHS should adopt a fertilization-based definition of pregnancy (and thus abortion) because that is consistent with the prevailing medical dictionary definitions, religious thought, and medical science on when life begins: these are, after all, conscience protections, so they should protect the conscience’s of the various health care providers.
  • Even if HHS does not adopt a fertilization-based definition of pregnancy, it should reject the implantation-based definition in HHS’s human-subject regulations for a number of reasons.

 o   For example, non-uterine, ectopic pregnancies demonstrate that uterine implantation cannot define the onset of pregnancy.

  • As a final alternative, HHS should recognize that the reasonable, subjective religious or moral conviction of the individual or institutional health care provider should govern, given the statutory focus on protecting conscience. Religious freedom and conscience in this country plainly reflect the views of the individual or institution, not the views of third parties.
  • Recognizing a right of conscience does not discriminate against women or violate any concepts mandated in Roe v. Wade and its progeny which do not purport to require any particular health care provider to participate in abortions.
  • HHS should enforce the Church, Coats, and Weldon Amendments in the same manner as it enforces other civil rights statutes, like Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
  • HHS’s Title X regulations, which require grant recipients to counsel and refer for abortions, appear to violate the law as set forth in the Church, Coats, and Weldon Amendments.

 

 

HHS Proposed Conscience Regs Published in Federal Register

by Chris Gacek

August 26, 2008

Today, the Federal Register published the Department of Health and Human Services’ notice of proposed rulemaking that seeks to ensure that HHS “funds do not support coercive or discriminatory policies or practices in violation of federal law” (lower case mine). The notice for these proposed conscience protection rules can be found in PDF via this link. The deadline for filing comments is September 25, 2008.

Little Hope for Religious Freedom in China after the Olympics

by Bill Saunders

August 21, 2008

As we saw in the Olympics the problem is not the wonderful Chinese people it is the woeful Chinese government. The government increased persecution in the lead-up to the Olympics and there is no reason to think it will change after the Olympics. See my new paper about the increase in religious persecution before the Olympics, which is a true prediction of what will happen afterwards.

Go World USA

by Michael Fragoso

August 14, 2008

I was watching the Olympics last night, and was struck by a number of things. When, exactly, did “beach volleyball” become an Olympic sport-and why isn’t there any Kenny Loggins playing during the game? Is Michael Phelps really the guy from Waterworld? And most importantly, what is Visa thinking?

Their series of “Go World” commercials defy any sort of explanation. Narrated by Lucius Fox-err, Morgan Freeman-and put to music clearly lifted from an exhibit in Epcot Center, they strive to embody the very soppiest of Olympic-tide twattle.

We’re told, “We don’t always agree, but for a few shining weeks we set it all aside…” Right. Tell that to the people of Georgia. Freeman goes on, “[We] come together, and stand, and cheer, and celebrate, as one.” We act as one. That’s rich, given that the games are being hosted by the ideological step children of history’s most bloodthirsty and murderous collectivist. “We forget all the things that make us different, and remember all the things that make us the same.” I guess some people in the Chinese government missed the memo on that. Oops. We’re lastly admonished to take up a new cheer: Go World.

Listen, I’m perfectly fine with athleticism for athleticism’s sake. I think it’s just great. I respected Curt Schilling pitching a masterful game seven in the 2004 ALCS with a torn up ankle-even though he was playing for a bunch of dirty Boston scrubs against the greatest team in the history of sports. In fact, Leon Kass and Eric Cohen recently had an excellent piece The New Republic on how the human good of pure athleticism is the benchmark ethical criterion for discussions of performance enhancement. This Visa campaign is not that. What we have here is trite utopian One-Worldery channeled into a sentimentalist corporate ad campaign. It would probably be par for the course with the Olympics, but given both the tense state of world affairs and the brutal tyranny of the Chinese Communist host regime it is not only in bad taste but is insulting.

The Chinese regime wants us to overlook their current despotic ways-and forget that these are but minor peccadilloes compared to the grievous sins of their not-so-distant past-amidst a tidal wave of artificial pomp and ginned-up false unity. The recently departed Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn warned us against that sort of historical amnesia, and it’s a shame that Visa is willing to help us along that path. It didn’t used to be that useful idiots and fellow travelers could count among their ranks international conglomerations. So much for the Running Dog…

No prize for religious freedom at this Olympic Games

by Bill Saunders

August 6, 2008

On the cusp of the Olympic games, we should pause to recall that, in order to win the right to hold the Games, China argued that hosting the Olympics would help it move toward democracy and respect for human rights. Now, the day before the Olympics, we know that is not the case. Human rights have deteriorated in the year leading up to the Games. In particular, religious freedom - for all religions - has been curtailed. Christians have suffered as well.

In a case in which FRC got involved last December, over 200 pastors were arrested, beaten, and 21 imprisoned for multi-year terms. Their crime? Holding an unauthorized Bible study. “House churches” have been targeted in a crackdown called the “strike hard” campaign. Likewise, Catholic members of the underground or unregistered or unofficial Catholic church have been imprisoned.

China remains a “country of concern” for violating the right to religious freedom on the short lists of the State Department and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. One Chinese Muslim likened these Olympics to Hitler’s - both showcased a totalitarian regime. It will be a sad day for human rights and religious freedom when the Games open tomorrow in Beijing.

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