LONDON — A member of the British royal family has helped to launch an international pro-life initiative.
Lord Nicholas Windsor, the first cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II and great-grandson of King George V, said that the project was “an attempt to draw a line and fight back against a concerted movement which seeks to read a ‘right to abortion’ into standing international law.”
Lord Nicholas was launching the “San Jose Articles” with Catholic peer Lord Alton of Liverpool at an event at the House of Lords in London Oct. 10. The launch was sponsored by the political lobby group Right to Life and the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, whose chairman, Catholic Member of Parliament Jim Dobbin, was also present.
The “San Jose Articles” are designed to counter an international campaign to establish legal abortion as a universal human right. They refute false statements advanced by pro-abortion campaigners and stress that no United Nations treaty gives legal abortion the status of a “reproductive right,” despite common claims.
Speaking to the Register, Lord Nicholas said that he saw the articles as “a rallying point.”
“We need to become better coordinated,” he said. “I think the various international groups that pursue this important agenda need to be working together. If they can work better together around a project like this, then I think that’s very useful.”
He said that international law is “being manipulated in the effort to craft” a right to abortion, even though “it is anti-democratic to subvert in this way the will of national parliaments and courts. I hope that these articles will be a useful tool for all those who don’t want to give up their national right to choose to defend the unborn from conception onwards.”
Lord Nicholas, 41, said he had made the journey “from being, rather heedlessly, ‘pro-choice’ when I was about 20 years old and a student to a point where I started simply to think about the subject and to find that I changed my mind.”
“This led me from being privately pro-life to deciding that I wanted to talk about it and write about it,” said Lord Nicholas, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. “Once I’d started doing that, I was invited to join the drafting group for the ‘San Jose Articles,’ which I’m very glad I did, because it opened up to me the dimension of international law and politics and how that affects the abortion question around the world. The majority of countries around the world do not have permissive laws on abortion — there is a huge fight still to defend the unborn in those countries where they come under pressure.”
Lord Nicholas’ views were echoed by Lord Alton, who said that he hoped “experts around the world will place a copy of these articles on the desks of legislators and that next time they hear the false assertion that abortion is a ‘right’ they will use this expert testimony that is in the ‘San Jose Articles.’”
“It is also our further hope that governments will start to utilize their right to refer to existing international law to protect the unborn child from abortion,” he said. “Those who make the assertion that there are new international rights have had the microphone for far too long, and it’s our hope that these articles will take that microphone away.”
He said that “there is a systematic and sustained attempt to bully countries into changing their laws” on abortion, but “any group or person making the argument that there is an international right to abortion is making a false argument and one that has never been agreed at the U.N. General Assembly.”
Catholic member of Parliament Jim Dobbin cited the testimony given by Grover Joseph Rees, former U.S. ambassador to East Timor, who said, “When I was in Timor, I witnessed firsthand a sustained effort by some international civil servants and representatives of foreign NGOs [non-governmental organizations] to bully a small developing country into repealing its pro-life laws. The problem is that people on the ground, even government officials, have little with which to refute the extravagant claim that abortion is an internationally recognized human right. The ‘San Jose Articles’ are intended to help them fight back.”
The articles were drafted and first signed in March in San Jose, Costa Rica, by various experts from around the world. They were launched at the U.N. earlier this month. Among the signatories of those who have already affirmed the articles is Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus.
Lord Nicholas Windsor, who was baptized at Windsor Castle and whose godparents include Prince Charles and Donald Coggan, later the archbishop of Canterbury, was received into the Catholic Church in 2001. Under the 1701 Act of Settlement, which excludes Catholics from the British throne, he therefore had to give up his right of succession.
James Kelly, Ph.D., is a columnist for The Universe, the biggest-selling Catholic weekly in Britain and Ireland, and a researcher at the University of London.