Lima, Peru, Mar 22, 2006 / 22:00 pm
The recent case of Paulina Ramirez, a rape victim who was used by the US-based “Center for Reproductive Rights (CFR)” and its partners to force the Mexican state of Baja California to approve abortion in cases of rape, is part of a new strategy to force Latin America to accept abortion, according to Carlos Polo, director for Latin America of the Population Research Institute.
Speaking with CNA, Polo said the new strategy, which consists of using non-binding international agreements to surprise countries, “is explained in an essay entitled, ‘What role does international law play in the promotion and advancing of reproductive rights in Latin America?” written by Monica Roa—the Colombian lawyer seeking the legalization of abortion in that country—Lilian Sepulveda-Oliva and Luisa Cabal. All three are members of the CFR.
In their essay, the writers propose using international litigation to “develop new standards for the protection of reproductive rights” and to force local authorities to ignore the country’s laws and introduce changes that would allow abortion and “reproductive health” services for teenagers.
The three women acknowledge that these situations are “still without a solid legal framework that reflects an obligation to exercise reproductive rights.”
Polo said this strategy has already been used in three cases—two in Peru and the most recent in Mexico—by the CFR.
The case in Mexico was that of Paulina Ramirez, who was a victim of rape. In Peru, the case being used is that of Karen Llantoy, who is mother of an anencephalic child and whose lawyers argue that it is a case of “therapeutic” abortion because abortion is not penalized in cases of life or health of the mother. The other case in Peru is that of Mamerita Mestanza, who died after a forced sterilization and lack of medical attention.
Polo notes that there are common elements in all three cases: “An ideologically based reinterpretation of international pacts and treaties and an over-exaggeration of the role of the follow-up committees for these treaties.” “It must be remembered that the recommendations of these committees are non-binding, that is, they do not compel a country; and yet the strategy of the CFR is, with the support of other human rights organizations, to intimidate countries and to make them think that they are not fulfilling binding international agreements,” Polo added.
“In this way, when a state acquiesces to the pressure, it establishes a series of ‘agreements’ that mean acceptance of the practice of abortion, and it establishes precedent for future cases,” Polo continued.
In the case of Paulina Ramirez in Mexico, the CFR and its allies sued the Mexican state of Baja California “for preventing her access to abortion since, according to the plaintiffs, the birth of the child—who ironically is being lovingly today raised by Paulina—violated her sexual integrity.”
The state of Baja California finally agreed to pay reparations to Paulina and said it would not allow “cases like Paulina to happen again in the state.”
Pro-life groups are working to determine what the state of Baja California has committed to and whether it would be in violation of Mexican law, which does not recognize the “right” to abortion in cases of rape. “The strategy consists in insisting that this is about ‘the violation of the mother’s human rights’ without mentioning the rights of the child,” Polo explained.
According to Polo, “CFR has no interest in understanding or respecting the legal framework that protects life as a tradition and as a conviction. What we have here is a subversion of the legal order cooked up and planned in an office in New York,” he added.
Polo said if anti-life groups were truly concerned about maternal mortality, “they would focus their efforts on the main cause, which is poorly-attended births, which account for more than three-fourths of maternal deaths in Latin America. It’s their ideological objectives that make them focus on abortion, which is the cause of only six percent of such deaths.”