05.05.2011: Lord David Alton corresponds with Your Rights Right Now ‘endorsing organisations’

5th May 2011

The Your Rights Right Now group has made a submission to the UN Human Rights Council which calls for abortion to be made available in Ireland.

Some Irish organisations had put their name to this submission and have been reported as ‘endorsing’ the Submission.    Since the Pro Life Campaign and others have raised this issue, a number of organisations have completely withdrawn their endorsements of the submission. However others have sought to defend their inclusion as an ‘endorsing’ organisation on the basis that the report included a disclaimer and that the Your Rights Right Now submission merely calls for ‘clarification’ of the abortion law rather than legalisation of abortion.

Many people have corresponded with the various organisations to challenge these points, one of whom is a member of the House of Lords and long-time advocate for the unborn Lord David Alton of Liverpool.

In response to the contention that the Your Rights Right Now submission did not in fact promote abortion, Lord Alton quotes the paragraph of the report itself which said “By restricting abortion, the State disproportionately interferes with women’s rights to health, privacy, life, freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment and non-discrimination” and he states “Here is not the place to debate the truth of this statement which I believe to be groundless and profoundly ideological. I quote it merely to illustrate the position of Your Rights Now draftsmen with regard to abortion. Restricting the killing of another human being is here described as an “interference” – a far from neutral statement. I feel, therefore, that it is reasonable to assert that any attempt to claim that Your Rights Now is anything other than a pro-abortion institution is disingenuous”

Regarding the recommendation in the Your Rights Right Now Submission to  “immediately repeal the 1861 Offences Against the Persons Act”, Lord Alton states “This is the Act which still forms the basis upon which abortion remains illegal in Ireland. Repealing it removes restrictions on abortion. To those who argue that Your Rights Right Now calls for clarification as opposed to legalisation of abortion I would pose a question as to what they feel the abolition of legal restrictions on abortion would achieve if not permissible abortion?”

In response to the contention that the disclaimer at the start of the Your Rights Right Now report is sufficient to justify the ‘endorsements’ by Irish organisations of the submission, Lord Alton says “..an endorsement (as I have always understood it) denotes support. Certainly, the strong claim in the Your Rights Now website that “more than 100 organisations have already signed up to the report” surely indicates that said organisations are pleased with its contents.    He also says “In the absence of a clarification as to which parts of the report reflect the policies of which group, endorsees ought to be alert to the fact that their approval of the report as a whole implies support for its radically pro abortion stance”

He continues  “To take an analogy, I highly doubt that, if this report contained a line recommending that we reinstitute slavery or the death penalty, organisations would feel they could be proximate to such reprehensible practices, even if the document were otherwise a wonderful reflection of that organisation’s policies”

You can read the full text of Lord David Alton’s excellent correspondence with Your Rights Right Now groups here

Thanks to his intervention and that of a significant number of people throughout Ireland emailing and telephoning the ‘endorsing’ organisations, the Your Rights Right Now report has been seriously undermined.  We expect that organisations will continue to withdraw their support of the submission over coming days and weeks.

You can view the organisations that have withdrawn their support of the Your Rights Right Now report and download the report here