Open Letter to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
Nov 10, 2017
Open Letter To:
Ms Catalina Devandas Aguilar
Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
c/o firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
RE: “Concluding observations on the initial report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” CRPD/C/GBR/CO/1, 29 August 2017 (As adopted during the 18th session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (14 -31 August 2017)
9 November 2017
Dear Ms Devandas Aguilar and members of the CRPD,
I am the International Coordinator of the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion and an abortion rights advocate for more than 35 years, living in the UK. I am writing to you in a personal capacity regarding the “Concluding observations on the report of the UK to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”, as above.
Your recommendations to the UK overall are absolutely fair and just, but I am writing to take issue with those related to abortion, and to explain why. These are as follows:
Equality and non-discrimination (art. 5)
The Committee is concerned about perceptions in society that stigmatize persons with disabilities as living a life of less value than that of others and about the termination of pregnancy at any stage on the basis of fetal impairment.
The Committee recommends that the State party amend its abortion law accordingly. Women’s rights to reproductive and sexual autonomy should be respected without legalizing selective abortion on the ground of fetal deficiency.
My concerns regarding these recommendations are threefold: the first is to do with your definition of “a person”. The second is to do with the reasons why women have abortions vs. how different laws address and codify reasons for abortion as legal or illegal grounds. The third is that I believe including any ground for abortion in the law whatsoever – apart from permitting abortion at the woman’s request – is a mistake because it serves to restrict women’s autonomy and decisions over their own bodies.