Penn State International Law Review


First Paragraph

Though it may seem clear on its face, the phrase "right to life" cannot be easily defined as expressing a single viewpoint or ideology. Part of the difficulty in defining the phrase "right to life" is that the phrase is intertwined with the question of when life begins. A "right to life" lacks meaning if it is not clear at what point in life that right begins to apply. Likewise, an assumption that the meaning of the phrase "right to life" is clear invites miscommunication. Great care must be given when using the phrase "right to life," especially in legislation. A simple misinterpretation of the phrase among lawmakers could fundamentally alter the extent to which abortion is permitted or not permitted under the law. When the provision being created is before a body as inclusive and diverse as the United Nations, determining the meaning of this phrase becomes particularly difficult, if not impossible. It is one such provision that this comment addresses.