Liechtenstein rejects legalized abortion and UN pressure
Voters in this small European country rejected a national referendum that would have legalized abortion during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. Current law permits abortion only in cases in which the mother’s life is in danger or the mother is under fourteen years-of-age at the time of conception. Women obtaining illegal abortions may be sentenced for up to one year in jail, and those providing the abortion may be jailed for up to three years. Details about the proposal and vote can be found here and here.
In 2007 the United Nations Committee on the implementation of the Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women urged Liechtenstein to liberalize its abortion laws.
“25. While noting the ongoing discussion in a multi-stakeholder working group, the Committee is concerned that women who elect to undergo abortion are subject to strict punishment.
26. The Committee recommends that the State party consider reviewing the laws related to abortion with a view to removing punitve provisions for women who undergo abortion, in line with the Committee’s general recommendation 24 on woman and health and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
Neither General Recommendation 24, nor the Beijing Declaration require legalization of abortion. In fact, this issue was hotly disputed at the Beijing Conference and resulted in the following language, “Unsafe abortions threaten the lives of a large number of women, representing a grave public health problem as it is primarily the poorest and youngest who take the highest risk. Most of these deaths, health problems and injuries are preventable through improved access to adequate health-care services, including safe and effective family planning methods and emergency obstetric care, recognizing the right of women and men to be informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice, as well as other methods of their choice for regulation of fertility which are not against the law, and the right of access to appropriate health-care services that will enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth and provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant.”
Note the language limiting the methods to those “which are not against the law.”
The Catholic Family and Human Rights Association has done extensive study on the issue of whether CEDAW requires nations to legalize abortion, and the results of their study are summaried here. This is an important issue and one that prolife academics should inform themselves on.