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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

For Once, A Single-Issue Approach Would Be Better!

I never thought I'd advocate a single-issue approach to abortion, but I have found one situation where I wish this were the case.

December 10 of this year marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

And to mark the occasion, the conservative Catholic group C-FAM is sponsoring a petition to call for inclusion of unborn humans in the Declaration.

Ah, but that's not all. In order to declare your support for this proposed revison to the Declaration, you have to declare your undying support for some other stuff, too...after all, it all must automatically go together, no?

Namely, the unborn child not only has the right to life, but "the right to be conceived, born and educated within the family, based on marriage between a woman and a man, the family being the natural and fundamental group unit of society."

So much for us prolifers who believe prolife includes universal public commitment to the equal education of all children, and respect and ample social support for diverse, egalitarian family forms, including families headed by single parents, adoptive and foster parents, and LGBT persons, including of course same-sex couples.

Apparently we are not eligible to support the the unborn child's right to human life. Voila! We are disaqualified! Who needs us God-hating fornicators and sodomites, hunh? We can't be for real anyway, can we?

I bet C-FAM could get a lot more signatures if it did not in this petition put such a "family values" qualification on support for the unborn child's human right of life. If they want to add their beliefs about family life to the Declaration, why not call for that in a *separate* petition?

There are prolifers like me who have thoughtful, compassionate, and even (gasp!) ethical, religious and spiritual motives for not connecting such a view of "family values" to protection of the unborn child.

For one, if an unborn child's right to life is respected by protecting him or her from abortion, but he or she is not conceived, born, and/or educated within the heterosexual nuclear family... then he or she by definition has a wronged and compromised life. He or she has a fundamentally spoiled identity...and how is this so different, from example, from the supposedly no-longer-in-use designation of nonmaritally conceived human beings as "illegitimate"?

When any human is regarded as having a spoiled identity, then he or she becomes *more* vulnerable to violence and discrimination, *not less.* Before birth, as well as after.


Austin Ruse said...

Just a point of clarification. Our petiton is not asking for the drafting of NEW language for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That would be a disaster since the left controls the levers at the UN. What we are asking for is for governments to begin interpreting the existing words of the Universal Declaration which calls for a "right to life" for everyone.

The Universal Declaration also calls for the right of men and women to marry adn found a family. Of course, the drafters never intended that this mean anything other than men and women marrying each other.

All the best,

Austin Ruse

PS The petition has grown to close to 40,000 signatories in slightly more than two weeks. Be December 10, it may go as high as 100,000.

Marysia said...

SO, why is it a disaster that the left controls the UN? Do you think if someone is leftist, they couldn't possibly care about unborn children? Or that advocating contraception and LGBT justice somehow automatically cancels out all possibility of human feeling for unborn kids? That's big news to me. (:

OK, I stand clarified. But I still think I got C-FAM's intent with this petition.

You all do not simply want to defend the human right of unborn children to life, and enlist as diverse and numerous a group of supporters as you could for this effort.

You want to link protection of unborn lives necessarily to imposing a monolithic model of family life that...in my view and the view of more prolifers than you may suspect...would lead--does lead, has led-- to more instead of fewer human rights violations.

Including the violation of unborn children's right to life. When children are stigmatized as "illegitimate" (whether or not you actually use that word, the concept is there) and their mothers are identified as human rights violators--those babies are more likely to be aborted.

That relentless, inhumane shaming of women has been a major driving force of both illegal and legal abortion historically.

And I know from my long work advocating for the human rights of both women and children, unborn and already-born, that it is still very much operative today.

And not one bit less importantly, from my own and my family's experiences with facing down and getting through all that is heaped on women and babies of unexpected pregnancies in those very cirucmstances you regard as anti-child human rights violations.

This lethal dynamic of shaming is especially present in communities where everyone speaks and behaves as if it is a fate worse than death for kids to be conceived, born, and/or raised in contexts other than the one imposed model of family life you advocate.

You know, some such communities are a bit more forgiving, but still, I've met women from "family values"-professing religious communities who had abortions rather than face the endless judgment and hostility that would have been heaped upon them and their kids, had they gone public with the evidence that they were no longer "sexually pure."

I also know people who preferred members of their own sex, but because of the homophobia all around them, tried desperately to live as heterosexuals--and ended up with unplanned pregnancies and abortions that haunt them to this day. Other homphobia-fueled threats to LGBT people's lives are hate crimes, suicide, substance abuse--and in some countries, a quite legal death penalty...LGBT justice is a prolife issue--and also because if there ever is a prenatal test for sexual orientation, it's not the straight kids who are going to get eradicated.

I will give you the benefit of the doubt and presume that such horrible things are not what you intend to happen--but they have happened, they do happen, and they will continue to happen until the ideologies behind them are dismantled.

Have you researched the "original intent" of the Declaration drafters? How do you do know what it is? Determining original intent is not always so straightforward.

Maybe they referred to male-female marriage only because the right of of LGBT persons to equal respect for their committed partnerships wasn't yet as prominent a human rights concern as it is now.

Same reason why they probably didn't specify that the right to life encompassed unborn as well as already-born humans...

Although, the Declaration of Geneva, which did specify rights from the time of conception,was adopted by the World Medical Association just months before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was made. Maybe the drafters of the UDHR thought mentioning fetal life would have redundant? Who knows?

But we would have to ask them, or, if they are not available for the asking, engage in detailed archival study of how the Declaration came to be.

And at any rate, while certain human rights are inalienable, consciousness of these rights and the need to protect them varies throughout time.