State Department Unveils “Natural Law” Commission

Yahoo News reports:

Charging that human rights advocates have deviated from their original purpose, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday named a staunch abortion opponent to lead a new panel to set the US direction. Pompeo, an evangelical Christian who often speaks of his faith, announced the creation of a State Department commission on “unalienable rights” to look at how the United States advocates human rights.

Quoting Czech anti-communist icon Vaclav Havel as saying that “words like rights can be used for good or evil,” Pompeo said that the panel will “revisit the most basic of questions — what does it mean to say, or claim, that something is in fact a human right?” Pompeo named as head of the commission Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard Law professor under whom he studied who is one of the intellectual leaders of the anti-abortion movement.

The Washington Post reports:

The mention of natural law, a philosophy that all human beings are endowed with certain rights, set off alarm among advocates of legal abortion and same-sex marriage.

The phrase is used by those who argue that basic human rights — such as free speech and the expectation that governments should not torture people — are made vulnerable when social goods such as education, health care and clean water are elevated to the characterization of human rights.

Daniel Philpott, a Notre Dame professor who was initially mentioned as a potential commission member, said that natural law reflects a concern that human rights have gone off the rails, in part because of abortion and claims about marriage rights.