The Humanity and Equality in Abortion Reform (HEAR) campaign is correcting comments by Ramsey MHK Dr. Alex Allinson that the unborn child does not have rights under law.
Speaking to Manx Radio this morning, Dr. Allinson was asked, “Does a foetus have rights?”, to which he replied: “Again, that’s a very interesting question. Within law, actually no. The foetus does not have any inherent legal rights”.
This is straightforwardly incorrect. As HEAR have pointed out on our website, ‘Foetus’, a word frequently used to conveniently dehumanise babies in the womb, is simply defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘… an unborn human more than eight weeks after conception’ (emphasis added). It is a Latin word that simply meant ‘offspring’. It does not deny that the unborn child is a human being, but actually implies that reality as clearly recognised by biological science.
As a human being, the unborn child shares all the same rights as other human beings. The Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that:
‘[R]ecognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world’.
Article 7 of the Declaration guarantees the the equal protection of these rights to all human beings without discrimination. That includes the Article 3 right to life.
Whilst it is true to say that the unborn child does not have equal rights with newborn babies and other later developed human beings in Manx law and the law across, this is inconsistent not just with reason and biology, but with international law. The Isle of Man is signatory to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which in its preamble states that (emphasis added):
‘Bearing in mind that, as indicated in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth”…’
The appropriate legal protection within the Convention includes the Article 6 recognition that ‘every child has the inherent right to life’.
The mistaken view of the unborn child that Dr. Allinson gave, along with the other dire and inhumane consequences of the draft Bill proposed by him, will be pointed to in the HEAR submission to the public consultation, and our accompanying public briefing, later this week.
HEAR spokesperson Sue Richardson, said:
“Dr. Allinson is simply mistaken. Unborn children clearly possess the right to life in international law, even if this is imperfectly expressed in domestic legislation. By contrast, there is no right to abortion anywhere, and we know from disability rights campaigners, the community of people with Down’s syndrome and their families, and women’s groups this week that abortion enables more than just discrimination against the unborn child, but worsened discrimination on the basis of disability and sex.
If we really care about humanity and equality in our laws then we should move in a truly progressive direction by strengthening, not weakening, right-to-life protections for unborn children, and giving social support for women who experience unplanned pregnancy.
That, and not the callous killing of abortion, is the truly and authentically compassionate response to these difficult circumstances, and best expresses Manx values of respect for the innate dignity and equality of all members of the human family”.