The Catholic Thing
An International Double Standard Print E-mail
By Austin Ruse   
Thursday, 29 April 2010
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What is it about the aborted unborn child that seems to make international human-rights activists – even conservative ones – coldly turn their backs? This week in Norway the New York-based Human Rights Foundation is hosting its annual Oslo Freedom Forum, which brings together human-rights champions for four days of speeches, consciousness-raising, and networking.

Forum organizers say they want to “to establish a space for leaders and entrepreneurs from around the world to gather in an intimate community where they are given the opportunity and information necessary to make a direct impact on human rights policy.” They say they want to help “put an end to today’s most serious human rights violations.”

This event features truly impressive speakers who have suffered, it seems, all of the modern and not so modern horrors of authoritarian thuggery. They have been kidnapped by terrorists, systematically tortured, jailed for criticizing governments, prosecuted for wearing trousers, forced into hard labor, gang-raped, and much else. Speakers include not just victims but those who, at great danger to themselves, defend these victims and millions like them.

What is wonderful about this event and the other efforts of the Human Rights Foundation is they do not just go after right-wing thugs. They are ferocious critics of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro and various left-wing militias in Latin America. But one is stopped from giving full-throated huzzahs to this event by a few of its speakers – and certainly one of its sponsors.

Among the speakers is Kasha N. Jacqueline, who is founder of something called Freedom and Roam Uganda, “the only exclusively lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersexual organization in Uganda“ dedicated “to the eradication of all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

It is true that the Parliament of Uganda is considering penal laws on homosexuality that are horrific in part – and those parts should certainly be opposed. That is one thing and a far cry from eradicating “all forms of discrimination.” As the Church teaches, there is such a thing as “just discrimination” of things that are not really equal, which includes not pretending that the traditional understanding of marriage is just one of many forms of the institution. Just discrimination makes it clear why there should not be gay adoptions and legalization of gay “marriages.” Liberal human rights groups assert that “sexual orientation and gender identity” are now part of the Universal Declaration. But must conservatives and others now simply agree?

Yet another speaker is the nutty Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon who is the world’s best-known judicial practitioner of “universal jurisdiction.” This is the theory that any judge anywhere in the world may criminally indict anyone else anywhere in the world for crimes the judge finds offensive – a serious threat, of course, to the rule of law and national sovereignty. When Garzon went after Chile’s Augusto Pinochet to general applause outside of Chile, he threatend a carefully negotiated arrangement between Pinochet and his opponents that had been the key to Chile’s delicate return to democracy. In a similar exhibition of judicial overreach, a U.N. judge recently said that the pope should be tried under universal jurisdiction for the sex-abuse crisis in the Church.

But these people are only problems, perhaps even minor ones, compared to the far larger concern that the Oslo Freedom Forum is being co-sponsored by the pro-abortion advocacy group Amnesty International.

Amnesty was not always pro-abortion. It is a recent development that has caused the defection of many faithful Catholics and the denunciation by then president of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace Cardinal Renato Martino, who said faithful Catholics should no longer donate to the group.

In the relatively short time that Amnesty has been pro-abortion, the group’s lawyers have intervened in many national situations all over the world in pressing the legal case that laws against abortion violate already established international norms. Forget that this claim is simply false. This “human rights” group now promotes the legalization of the systematic killing of human beings.

Perhaps even our friends must be reminded that human rights are indivisible. One cannot gain human rights at the expense of the human rights of others. The deliberate killing of another human being can under no circumstances purchase any other human right. The “right to life” of all “human beings” is written into the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, one of the two implementing treaties of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is a foundational right.

One wouldn’t think of inviting defenders of torture or slavery to co-sponsor a human rights conference. Why invite the newly pro-abortion Amnesty International?

The short answer is that pro-abortion public relations has made advocating the killing of children in the womb seem to be an accepted human right (though no international treaty says this), while bona fide human-rights groups that oppose abortion on principled grounds dare not speak for fear of being ostracized. Sadly, we understand how radioactive this issue is. No group is called upon to work on every category of human-rights violation, but a murderous pro-abortion bias has crept subtly into the international human-rights network. And it’s time to say, loudly, that inviting human-rights violators to sponsor your human-rights conference is passing strange. No, it is offensive.


Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washinton, D.C.-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Ruse’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-FAM.

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Comments (6)Add Comment
written by Sean, November 24, 2010
its this kind of thinking that has the world in these conflicts and circumstances of violence for a reason. The fact that you condemn someone for there deepest beliefs, nay, their very nature because they are not parallel with your own seems bias at best. Wheither you can agree with abortion, i think its a right for a women to say if she wants to have a rape baby, and for differing sexuality i cant see how the love that god is suppose to spread would cause this kind of cavalier prejudice against somebody that thinks feels and speaks just like any of us. Don't be so quick to condemn, plus i can't understand the phrase " killing children in the womb", if you can agree its a fetus, a fetus in that stage of their development are not intelligent. Think of chickens and eggs, you eat their aborted young and you don't see people in an uproar over it.
Don't condemn what you cannot fully say, with all necessary proof, that someone else is in the wrong for doing what they know is best. Especially if the ones themselves have faith in the same god you believe in.

written by Manja, November 24, 2010
My body is my body.
My life is my life.

It is my decision whom I sleep with, no matter the gender.
It is my decision if I wanna bear a child I conceived unwilingly by rape (since I CAN prevent a pregnancy when I have sex by choice. Condoms and stuff.).

Also it is my right to abort when I learn that a pregnancy could pretty easily kill me. Call me egomaniac but not even my wish for a child could make me risk my own life - though I'd risk my life very readily FOR a already born child.

It is a human right to decide freely over your own body without fearing punishment.

(The problem is in the definition of a human life. Catholics see an embryo already as human and thus it is logical to condemn abortion. Since killing without a need is a sin.
Biologically an embryo is recognised as a living being when it has a heart beat - and while I see the point in the Catholic argumentation (which probably any mother or mother-to-be-and-exited-about will share at least considering her own child), I am too much of a rationalist to be not on the Biology-side. And - I know now I gonna get the full load of crap - while I think the abortion should be allowed only under the 3rd-month-line (as long as it is still an embryo) I have problems to see a child as a human when it is not able to breathe on its own - so actually a child would not be human for me below the 7th or 8th month.)
written by Anna Pihta, November 26, 2010
Dear Manja, your premise is wrong ("my body is my body; my life is my life") and therefore your logic is confused.
"I have problems to see a child as a human when it is not able to breathe on its own - so actually a child would not be human for me below the 7th or 8th month." So, for you, a child on a respirator (no matter how old or for what reason) is no longer human? A human embryo is human from the minute of conception - it will never be a rabbit or an elephant or a tiger. Whether the embryo or pre-born infant is able to survive on its own does not make any difference. Humans, created by God, defend and nurture the weakest, in nature it is survival of the fittest...
written by andy, November 29, 2010
so you condemn kasha jacqueline for risking her life to stop the mass execution of potentially millions of gay ugandans, on the basis that you dont want gay adoption?

That doesn't sound very pro-life to me.
written by Nicholas Mercy, November 30, 2010
There is no such thing as "just discrimination". There is never a "good reason" to persecute, deny rights, harm or otherwise degenerate the quality of life of your fellow human beings. Religion can be such an amazing force for good in the world but using it to (and make no mistake this is precisely what it is doing with articles like this) hurt others, force them to feel somehow "less than human" because they are different, and generally try to propagate hate amongst the masses dishonors the true purpose of religion in my opinion. Calling for the protection of unborn children lives while in the SAME BREATH advocating the diminishing and/or ending of gay people's lives/rights/happiness is hypocrisy of the highest order. If you truly believe in protecting lives and making the world a better place then stop playing favorites. So long as it does no harm, everyone deserves to live, everyone deserves to find their happiness regardless of their differences. As far as I know, teaching tolerance for differences among people even if you disagree/don't approve was never harmful to society and in fact makes it a better place for everyone. When religion as a whole stops telling these young gay people that they are sick and worthless and better off dead (and again make no mistake, that's exactly what you are doing) then you can advocate protecting the lives of the unborn without hypocrisy.
written by Stephen, December 07, 2010
I second what Andy said.

Also, Austin Ruse, it was a low blow of you to discredit Kasha Jacqueline's work by referring to her organization as "something". You are intelligent; I am sure you realize it is an organization.

You wrote: "Among the speakers is Kasha N. Jacqueline, who is founder of something called Freedom and Roam Uganda".

For the record, I am anti-abortion at any moment past conception and still pro-gay marriage.

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