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Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, right, speaks with others at the UN torture committee hearing May 5
Associated Press/Photo by Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, right, speaks with others at the UN torture committee hearing May 5

UN calls Catholic pro-life stance torture


In a novel attack on pro-life groups and nations, the United Nations has accused the Roman Catholic Church of torture for advocating against abortion.

Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), said Western powers for years have tried to use the UN to force a liberal social agenda on conservative nations. The Vatican has signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention Against Torture. During reports to those committees in the last 90 days, the UN tried to further press the Vatican to change its teaching.

“Committees have started trying to rewrite treaties and add new language, which they don’t have a right to do, and try to foist these new obligations on the governments that have already ratified the treaties,” Ruse said.

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The children’s rights committee in February told the Vatican to change its teaching on abortion and homosexuality, including the practice of excommunicating abortionists. On May 5, the torture committee accused the Vatican of torture in both its pro-life views and its handling of child sexual abuse by priests. The committee’s theory is that by advocating against abortion, especially for women who are younger or victims of crimes, the Church is committing a form of psychological torture.

“This is a violation of freedom of religion,” Ruse said. And Archbishop Silvano Tomasi told the UN as much. Abortion itself is a form of torture, he said, accusing the United Kingdom and Canada directly for their practice of late-term abortion. Other voices have added to those remarks to create a movement. European Centre for Law and Justice Director Grégor Puppinck and other pro-life activists said 622 babies in Canada from 2000-2011—and 66 in the United Kingdom in 2005 alone—died after botched abortions resulted in live births.

Committees cannot create binding resolutions, and “don’t really have any authority,” Ruse said. The American Center for Law and Justice said the torture committee “could begin an international legal process that would cause the UN to review statements or actions by pro-life public officials.” But ultimately, the torture committee’s power is slim.

That’s a victory for the pro-life community, according to C-FAM. Yes, the UN climate chief also lectured religious groups to teach their followers to accept the UN’s climate change position. Yes, the UN used battles against HIV and AIDS to intimidate African nations into abandoning teachings on abstinence, monogamy, and fidelity.

But despite the ongoing efforts to promote abortion and twist past resolutions to manufacture rights, C-FAM said, pro-abortion activists have failed to gain traction toward a binding international right to abortion. They don’t have the enough countries on their side. “Our opponents on this issue have tried for 20 years to get an international right to abortion, and they have failed,” Ruse said. “Repeatedly.”

Andrew Branch
Andrew Branch

Andrew is a freelance writer living in Raleigh, N.C. He was homeschooled for 12 years and recently graduated from N.C. State University. He writes about sports and poverty for WORLD. Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewABranch.


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