OAS Secretary General backs 'essential' right to life

shutterstock 1635796333 Entrance of The Organization of American States (OAS or OEA) in Washington, D.C. | JHVEPhoto/Shutterstock

Pro-life advocates praised the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Tuesday for stating that the right to life should be protected from conception.

Luis Almagro, formerly the Uruguayan foreign minister, has previously drawn criticism for the organization's apparent support for abortion.

Last week, at a forum for candidates for OAS Secretary General, the current OAS head, Almagro, said that "definitely, the principles of religious freedom that I have mentioned and the principles of the right to life are fundamental principles and rights." Almagro is running for re-election as secretary general.

Almagro also said that it is "essential" that Article 4 of the American Convention on Human Rights be fully applied.

That article states that "Every person has the right to have his life respected," and that "[t]his right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the moment of conception."

In response, two pro-life leaders-who opposed Almagro's re-election last year in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo-offered praise of the secretary general's statements.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, praised Almagro's remarks March 10, expressing her hope that "they are heard throughout the region and the world."

"He could not have been clearer: the right to life is a fundamental principle and right," Dannenfelser said.

Alfonso Aguilar, president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, also applauded Almagro's remarks on Tuesday, calling them a significant step toward respecting the decisions of OAS member states to uphold the sanctity of life.

Almagro "fully understands that multilateral organizations like the OAS should respect the sovereignty of members states on matters of their internal jurisdiction such as the issue of abortion," Aguilar said.

In his remarks at the candidate forum, Almagro-who is running for a second term as secretary general-also defended the ability of pro-life groups to make human rights claims to the body.

The Organization of American States (OAS) is made up of 35 member states from the Western Hemisphere, and promotes cooperation and solidarity among member countries as well as sovereignty and independence.

It has attracted criticism in recent years for alleged abortion advocacy. In 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. would be reduce funding to the OAS under the Siljander Amendment, which prohibits U.S. funding of pro-abortion lobbying. The U.S. cited "recent evidence of abortion-related advocacy" at the OAS for the decision.

"Our reduction equals the estimated U.S. share of possible OAS expenditures on these abortion-related activities," Pompeo said.

Dannenfelser and Aguilar were two of more than two dozen pro-life leaders who called for the Trump administration to oppose Almagro's re-election in October.

In a letter to Secretary Pompeo in October, the leaders pointed to Almagro's alleged abortion advocacy and called it "gravely inappropriate." The secretary general had met with the International Planned Parenthood Federation, as well as the Center for Reproductive Rights.

"Upon assuming the leadership of the OAS, Mr. Almagro made good on his promise to promote abortion as a human right," they said at the time.

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However, according to SBA List on Tuesday, the Trump administration subsequently reached out to Almagro, who assured them that he had no intention of promoting a right to abortion in member states.

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