Monday, December 3, 2012
For the record: on why contraception is not a human right
Jemy Gatdula, Nov. 25, 2012
The news currently being gloated over by the pro-RH Bill advocates (including their too fawning pro-RH media) is the United Nations Population Fund’s declaration in its annual report "The State of the World Population" that: "Family planning is a human right." Unfortunately, aside from playing up the non-news, pro-RH advocates and their media cohorts also distort it.
Notably, the UNFPA’s annual report actually used the term "family planning" as a human right. Not "birth control." Not "contraception." Those are three different things. But pro-RH advocates and media immediately headlined their articles to give the impression that the UNFPA is stating that "birth control" or "contraception" are the human rights. This is outright misleading.
Nevertheless, assuming the UNFPA actually did mean "birth control" or "contraception," such pronouncement is not legally binding and should never be interpreted by the Philippines (or by any individual official or citizen) as a mandatory requirement for the country to provide contraception to anyone.
It must be emphasized that the UNFPA, a subsidiary organ of the United Nations (and, hence, obviously NOT the United Nations) is not authorized to make international law. Any declaration that it makes is merely for its own internal purposes, with regard to the objectives handed down by the UN.
International law is made by the States themselves (and, to a certain extent, other "subjects" of international law) through the execution of treaties or by the making of a custom (which requires State practice and "opinio juris").
Presently, no international custom exists making "contraception" a human right. And as Meghan Grizzle (in her "White Paper on Family Planning," March 2012; see http://www.wya.net/advocacy/research/WYA%20Reproductive%20Health%20White%20Paper.pdf) shows: "No international human right to any particular form of family planning supply or method is enumerated in international human rights treaties. The only international human rights treaties that explicitly mention family planning are the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and the Convention on Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Despite claims from UNFPA and the World Center for Reproductive Rights that there is a right to contraceptive information and services, no international human rights treaty even mentions contraception."
Activists love resorting to arguing that international human rights law is sui generis. Which is nonsensical. It is sui generis because international human rights law focuses on individuals rather than States (as other international law fields tend to do). But it does not excuse international human rights law from overriding the nature of international law itself, sovereignty, democratic processes, or genuine human rights such as "religious liberties." Even international human rights law does not permit un-elected bureaucrats, such as those in the UNFPA (or the WHO), to make international law.
And thus, as Ms. Grizzle rightly emphasizes: "International law clearly does not create a right to contraception; States are thus not required to provide contraception."
Furthermore, while "family planning" has indeed been mentioned in some international instruments, we refer again to Ms. Grizzle: "Family planning is not synonymous with contraception, and calls for family planning methods and services should not be construed as calls for contraceptives alone."
True. "Family planning" could mean a lot of things. It is not limited to contraception. Family planning could include abstinence. It could include "natural family planning" or NFP (which is espoused by the Catholic Church). To this must be considered the fact that, as I pointed out in two previous articles ("Contracepting Common Sense," Aug. 23, 2012; "Contraceptive Faith," Nov. 16, 2012), countless medical studies and lawsuits show us that contraceptives are dangerous not only to women but also for their children. Yet, on top of that danger, oral contraceptives also come with a 7% failure rate, a 15% failure rate for condoms, compared to the almost 0% failure rate for NFP.
The absurdity of UNFPA’s position is best summed up by Marcus Roberts of Mercatornet: "How do we reduce infant mortality throughout the developing world? The normal person’s answer: improve health services, water and food supplies. The UN Population Fund’s answer: increase contraception so that the infants are not born. No births, no infant mortality. What a perfect solution."
What makes UNFPA’s stand worse, however, according to Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse of the Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute, is that it seeks to encourage States to force "believers around the world to give up their deeply held, long-established religious convictions." And, contrary to the impression spread by the media, many women believe -- correctly -- that, rather than contraceptives, their religious faith is an actual "human right" that must be protected.
Indeed. To believe that a human right could be created distanced from natural law is ridiculous and dangerous. Natural law leads us to know our human nature and our rights are precisely based on protecting that nature. Creating a so-called "right" that turns its back on natural law will ultimately lead to the debasement of the human being.