A coalition of pro-life and pro-marriage groups on Wednesday will present to the United Nations a petition containing at least 350,000 signatures asking that U.N. member states interpret the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as protecting unborn children from abortion and protecting the traditional family.
The petition’s sponsors will present the signatures at U.N.’s New York headquarters and in private meetings with ambassadors.
The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) was the primary organizer of the petition drive, called “U.N. Petition for the Unborn Child and the Family.” It was joined by the Pro-Life Federation of Poland, the Institute of Family Policy of Spain, United Families International of the US, and U.S.-based Concerned Women for America.
The coalition sponsoring the petition formed in response to petition efforts by the pro-abortion groups International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and Marie Stopes International which are calling for a right to abortion to be recognized on the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The U.N. Petition for the Unborn Child and the Family asserts that the rights presented in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are inherent to every person and that governments should extend the right to life to all members of the human family, including the unborn child. It also asks governments to protect the family as “the fundamental group unit of society,” giving special assistance to mothers and children and promoting the rights of parents.
"We are proud not only to match but far surpass the efforts of pro-abortion groups," said Austin Ruse, president of C-FAM. "We launched our drive only two months ago and have generated more than 300,000 names from all over the world."
Ruse said, "I suspect that Marie Stopes and IPPF will present a few thousand names. This shows what we have known all along; that abortion is supported mostly by elites while everyday people are for protecting the unborn child."
CNA spoke with Ruse about the petition in a phone interview on Tuesday.
He reported that the reaction to the petition presentations has been “very positive” among member states. On Tuesday it was presented to various ambassadors at the U.N. representing Poland, the Holy See, Fiji, and Uganda.
Ruse explained that the petition is being presented to delegations which head important U.N. committees.
He added that he suspected abortion rights groups will receive the petition very badly, as it was created in response to their petition.
“Ours is going to be significantly larger than theirs,” he said, reporting that a recent Marie Stopes International petition had only 1,000 signatories.
“I suspect they will be at our press conference asking difficult questions,” he said, predicting their reaction to be “profoundly negative.”
Ruse told CNA that abortion advocates are engaged in a “multifaceted” international effort to advance their cause through the United Nations. U.N. Committees are directing governments to change their laws on abortion and are reinterpreting existing treaties to include the right to abortion.
He cited the commission charged with reinterpretation of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in which the commission claimed to have found a right to abortion.
These committee decisions are then interpreted as new norms and cited by national authorities.
“The High Court of Columbia overturned abortion laws based on these reinterpretations,” Ruse explained.
However, Ruse was optimistic about the pro-life petition drive.
“Our petition is up to 350,000 signatures, and it’s going higher every day,” he told CNA, noting that signatures have come in from at least 168 countries.
Ruse said the petition calls on governments to return to the original understanding of certain clauses in the Declaration, especially those dealing with the right to life, the right to marry, the right of parents to educate their children, and the place of the family as the basic unit of society.
“We are determined to keep this alive to see if we can hit one million signatures by the next General Assembly meeting in the fall,” he continued, noting that the goal seeks to equal the number of signatures collected for a recent anti-death penalty petition.
After only a few weeks of collecting signatures, Ruse told CNA, “We’re a third of the way there.”
The petition is available on the C-FAM web site at http://www.c-fam.org/publications/id.95/default.asp