In 2011 the United Nations Committee on the Convention Against Torture called on Ireland to change its abortion laws.
In July 2014, members of the U.N. Human Rights Committee in hearings reviewing the Republic of Ireland's adherence to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights contended that Irish abortion restrictions violated human rights agreements.
Since 2015, U.N. resolutions have encouraged member states to ensure that women and girls have access to "sexual and reproductive health-care services," which in the U.N.'s view includes the promotion of abortion.
These resolutions are not binding in international law, but do reflect internal U.N. priorities and policies. The repeated inclusion of "sexual and reproductive health" in resolutions could result, over a period of time, in the United Nations adopting abortion as a human right.
While Gilmore acknowledged that human rights commission rulings are unenforceable, she said they can help pressure governments to act, The Guardian reported.
"The human rights system doesn't have an army, but what we know is many national courts follow that jurisprudence in their own rulings," she said.
Moves to promote abortion at the U.N. have been challenged by Archbishop Bernardito Auza, head of the Holy See's permanent observer mission to the U.N.
Auza rejected claims of a right to abortion by some U.N. leaders in his April 3, 2019 response to assertions of such a right at a spring meeting of the U.N. Commission on Population of Development.
"Suggesting that reproductive health includes a right to abortion explicitly violates the language of the (International Conference on Population and Development), defies moral and legal standards within domestic legislations and divides efforts to address the real needs of mothers and children, especially those yet unborn," Auza said.
Pope Francis has repeatedly likened the practice of abortion to the "hiring of a hitman" and decried "eugenicist" abortion campaings against the disabled.
The Holy See's diplomatic opposition to the global abortion agenda goes back decades, to the pontificate of St. John Paul II, who wrote a letter to the general secretary of the International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo in 1994.
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In that letter, St. John Paul II voiced his strong concerns that the conference's draft document showed a "tendency to promote an internationally recognized right to access to abortion on demand, without any restriction, with no regard to the rights of the unborn."