Joint Committee On Human Rights Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

3. Memorandum from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

  In the light of yesterday's hearing by the Committee on the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, we request that you convey to the Committee our concerns on this subject.

  One of the primary aims of our Society is "to reassert the principle laid down in the United Nations 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child that the child `needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth'."

  This principle is in keeping with the declaration by the second assembly of the World Medical Association (Geneva, 1948): "I will maintain the utmost respect for human life, from the time of its conception."

  This principle is also in keeping with article 6(5) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966): "Sentence of death . . . shall not be carried out on pregnant women." The Travaux Preparatoires of this Covenant states that the express intention of this article was inspired by consideration of the interests of the unborn child.

  We therefore wish to see the United Kingdom retract its declaration that "The United Kingdom interprets the Convention as applicable only following a live birth" and to declare that it interprets the Convention as applicable from the time of conception, a conceptus being:

    —  a human ovum undergoing fertilisation or analogous process leading to the formation of a human embryo;

    —  a human embryo;

    —  a human fetus.

17 July 2002

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