Humanists UK speaks out against restrictive abortion laws at UN Human Rights Council

19 September, 2017

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva

Humanists UK has today spoken out against the restrictive abortion laws enforced in many countries around the world, and the worrying religious fervour with which they are enforced, as part of the 36th regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.

Humanists UK has long campaigned in defence of women’s reproductive rights, and is currently applying to intervene in a case at the Supreme Court which hopes to end the ban on abortion in Northern Ireland in cases of rape, incest, and fatal foetal abnormality.

In a speech to the assembled nations of the UNHRC, Humanists UK Campaigns Manager Jay Harman called on the Council to condemn not simply restrictive abortion laws themselves, but also the ‘appalling lack of compassion’ displayed by fundamentalists in enforcing such laws. The intervention drew attention to the recent case of a teenager, Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz, in El Salvador – one of five countries in which abortion is banned in all circumstances – who was given a 30-year prison sentence for aggravated homicide having had a stillbirth after she was raped.

Humanists UK also condemned the actions of the anti-choice movement in the USA, which continues to undermine women’s sexual and reproductive rights by erecting practical and administrative barriers to abortion access. One US state, for instance, has banned private health insurance from covering abortions, leading to a situation in which women must pay for what is effectively supplementary ‘rape insurance’ in order to be covered.

Concluding by urging the Council to condemn this kind of behaviour, Mr Harman stated that ‘the inhumanity with which women seeking abortions are treated, the disregard that is shown for their health and wellbeing, and the threats of violence to which they are continually subjected reveals that religious fundamentalists are more intent on punishing women than they are on saving what they describe as ”the unborn child”.’


For further comment or information please contact Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Jay Harman on 

Read the intervention:

Read more about Humanists UK’s work on abortion:

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

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