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SAN JOSE ARTICLES/ Carozza (Notre Dame): The struggle against abortion involves both law and culture

Paolo Carozza explains the San Jose Articles, which rebut the idea that there is a foundation for abortion rights in international law, from both a juridical and a cultural point of view.

UN General Assembly UN General Assembly

As Ilsussidiario.net has already reported, the San Jose Articles were launched on October 6, 2011 in a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York. The purpose of this document is to rebut the false assertion that there is a new international right to an abortion.

Further, the San Jose Articles aim to demonstrate that the unborn child is already protected in human rights instruments and that governments should begin protecting the unborn child by using international law.

The San Jose Articles have also been presented on October 10 to the House of Lords in London by Lord David Alton of Liverpool, and the queen’s cousin, Lord Nicholas Windsor, both Catholic, at an event sponsored by the All Party Parliamentary Pro-life Group and Right to Life. The document is also being launched in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the Italian Parliament, the World Pro-Life Congress in San José, the Canadian National Pro-Life Conference in Calgary, as well as at venues in Madrid, Santiago, Buenos Aires, and Washington D. C.

Ilsussidiario.net interviewed Professor Paolo Carozza, Director of the Law School’s J.S.D. program in international human rights law, and the Director of the Law School’s new Program on Law and Human Development at the University of Notre Dame to understand better what the main issues of this relevant document are.

The interpretation of human rights varies widely from country to country. Why are you sure that the abortion is not a human right?
This has to be answered on several levels.  First, the San Jose Articles are speaking specifically about international human rights law, and they simply state a verifiable fact when they point out that no universal human rights treaty, nor any customary international law, contains any right to abortion.  The only treaty that does so is an optional protocol to the regional treaty on human rights applicable to Africa.  Of course, the very general and open language of human rights principles are inherently subject to a wide array of interpretations, and some international human rights bodies created by UN treaties have tried to take advantage of that ambiguity to interpret treaty provisions related to health or privacy, for example, as guaranteeing also access to abortion.