Honduras Bans Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage Over Objections of UN Experts

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NEW YORK, February 5 (C-Fam) The Honduran Congress amended the Constitution of the Central American nation to ban all abortions despite pressure from the United Nations and abortions groups to block the added protections for the unborn.

The Congress amended the Constitution to explicitly ban abortion last week. The amendment prohibits “the termination of life of the unborn by the mother or a third party under any circumstance” and expanded the protections for the unborn already enshrined in Article 67 of the Honduran Constitution.

The Constitution previously recognized the humanity of the child in the womb, stating that the unborn “is to be considered born for all intents and purposes within the limits established by law,” leaving the door open for laws to allow abortion in some cases.

The explicit amendment against abortion adopted last week makes it near impossible to make abortion legal under any circumstance. It requires three-quarters of the Congress to amend the Constitution again to make abortion legal.

The amendment extended the three-quarters requirement to the preexisting ban on same-sex marriage in the Honduran Constitution, which was adopted in 2005.

The United Nations office in Honduras issued a press release criticizing the constitutional amendment and asking the Honduran Congress to “reconsider” its decision.

“This Constitutional reform violates international human rights obligations,” the UN office statement reads.

The UN office argued that complete bans on abortion have been declared violations of human rights by UN experts because they prevent abortion from being addressed as a public health issue. The UN office lamented the measure against “marriage equality” because it might “increase inequality and discrimination on the basis of gender.”

Another press release from the UN Human Rights system reported the objections of UN experts on women’s rights based in Geneva.

“We regret that efforts to amend the Criminal Code with a view to decriminalising abortion have failed in the past and we recall that criminalising women for abortion is against international human rights standards,” the experts reportedly said.

Even though UN experts routinely say that abortion is an international human right. This is in fact a contested claim. No UN human rights treaty establishes abortion as a human right, or even mentions abortion.

In October last year, thirty-five countries signed the Geneva Consensus Declaration on Promoting Women’s Health and Protecting the Family, which states that “abortion is not an international human right” and that the UN system should not promote abortion. It was submitted to the Secretary-General on behalf of the signatories.

International experts who signed the San Jose Articles argued that international human rights law should be used to protect life and that UN experts have no authority to promote abortion.

Abortion groups like the Center for Reproductive Rights and international groups Oxfam, Doctors without Borders, and Human Rights Watch also criticized Honduras for adding protections for the unborn in its Constitution. 

From the Centre for Family & Human Rights here.