International Abortion Strategies

The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and its allies would like to legalize abortion around the globe. So they tell us in a series of secret memos made public by C-FAM. Yet they find themselves in a position of grave weakness.

Most countries outlaw abortion, some international treaties and agreements explicitly oppose it, and not a single treaty or agreement promotes it. But for the true believer, none of this matters. Treaties can be twisted, documents can be distorted, and words can be made to mean what they want them to mean.

CRR begins by openly acknowledging the weakness of its hand. “We have been leaders in bringing arguments for a woman's right to choose abortion within the rubric of international human rights. However, there is no binding hard norm that recognizes a women's right to terminate a pregnancy.”(1) This is a glaring “normative gap,” to use CRR's own words, in international documents and treaties. How does CRR intend to bridge this normative gap?

CRR intends to fill this normative gap by explicitly including “abortion” as a “reproductive right” within the panoply of human rights referred to in international treaties and norms, which include: “the rights to life and health; the right to be free from discrimination; [and] those rights that protect individual decision-making on private matters.”(2)

In a sense, they are seeking to replicate the infamous Roe v. Wade decision of the Supreme Court, which found a “right” to abortion in the “penumbra” of the 14th Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Their stumbling block is that there is no international equivalent of the “Supreme Court,” dominated by people of like mind, to hand down this ruling.

In lieu of this, CRR lays out a strategy of legalizing abortion through legislative action around the world. In CRR's words, “The goal of strengthening international norms and enforcement is to ensure that appropriate legal norms are in place at the national level.”(3) They describe the “adoption and implementation of appropriate national-level norms” — namely, legislation enacted by national governments to legalize abortion — as a “prerequisite” to establishing the right to abortion in international norms.

At the same time, however, CRR seeks to justify the legalization of abortion in specific countries by claiming that international norms and standards already include a right to abortion. This is smoke and mirrors, since they have just admitted that international norms do not include a right to abortion.

Nevertheless, the CRR abortion strategists go on to say that they will promote such a right to abortion by “repeated interpretations” of the concept of “reproductive rights.” Through these “repeated interpretations,” they hope that international treaties and norms will gradually be seen to support abortion. To wit: “As interpretations of norms are repeated in international bodies, the legitimacy of these rights is reinforced.” In other words, they will continue to repeat the lie that abortion is an international right until the lie is, they hope, believed.

Pro-abortion lobbyists overseas will cite these false claims to promote the legalization of abortion in their own countries. Whenever any country legalizes abortion based upon these lies, then this would be used to strengthen the “interpretation” that abortion is a “reproductive right” under international law.

If all this sounds confusing, not to worry. It is. It is the product of minds who will stoop to any lie, to any deceit, to promote abortion. Truth and justice matter nothing to such zealots.

But take heart. While the CRR memos hope to promote abortion in “international jurisprudence,” they go on to note that “we are forever at risk of losing ground in the same fora.” (4) Their worst fear should be our plan. And a public examination of their memos is a good place to start.


1. Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), DOMESTIC LEGAL PROGRAM OF STRATEGIC PLANNING THROUGH OCTOBER 31, 2003; placed into the U.S. Congressional Record by U.S. Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ), December 8, 2003. 2. Ibid., CRR.

3. Ibid., CRR.

4. Ibid., CRR.

Steve Mosher is the president of Population Research Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to debunking the myth that the world is overpopulated.

Steven W. Mosher


Steven W. Mosher is the President of Population Research Institute and an internationally recognized authority on China and population issues, as well as an acclaimed author, speaker. He has worked tirelessly since 1979 to fight coercive population control programs and has helped hundreds of thousands of women and families worldwide over the years.

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