“This is the U.S. trying to normalize and legitimize a narrow perspective on human rights and health that is not in line with longstanding international agreements recognizing human rights, including reproductive rights.”
Last week, the United States joined 32 other countries in signing a declaration that there “is no international right to abortion.”
The Geneva Consensus Declaration promotes anti-equality and anti-abortion rhetoric under the premise of “promoting and strengthening the family.” It calls for a global agreement to “emphasize that ‘in no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning,” and that “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”
The document breaks from consensus established by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which promotes safe, legal, and affordable access to sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion.
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar signed the non-binding document in a virtual event on Thursday. The US co-sponsored the declaration alongside Egypt, Uganda, Brazil, Hungary, and Indonesia.
“Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States has defended the dignity of human life everywhere and always,” Pompeo said during the virtual event. “We’ve also mounted an unprecedented defense of the unborn abroad.”
Pompeo signed the declaration the same day that Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal ruled against the country’s abortion law, striking down access to legal and safe abortion. In a statement the same day, International Planned Parenthood’s Federation European Network linked Poland’s restrictions directly to the “Trump-led” declaration, as well as the upcoming confirmation of Barrett.
“Regressive governments from around the world, including Poland and Hungary, will sign a farcical Trump-led document with no legal basis, with which they attempt to defy international consensus in support of sexual and reproductive health and rights,” the organization wrote Thursday.
Declaration Comes Days Before Amy Coney Barrett Is Expected to be Confirmed to the Supreme Court
The organization also noted in its statement that Judge Amy Coney Barrett—“known for her anti-abortion views”—would soon be confirmed to the US Supreme Court.
In fact, Barrett is expected to be approved by the GOP-led Senate on Monday evening. The appellate judge—who sailed through her confirmation hearings earlier this month—has refused to comment on whether she would support overturning Roe v. Wade. When asked about her personal views on the issue, she responded: “All nominees are united in their belief that what they think about a precedent should not bear on how they decide cases.”
She has, however, aligned herself with anti-abortion groups in the past and, since her nomination was announced, garnered widespread support from those who oppose the right to choose. Before he was elected, President Donald Trump vowed to appoint justices to the high court who would support repealing the landmark decision that legalized abortion.
“She’s a conservative woman who embraces her faith,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Fox News Channel. Graham serves as the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which approved her nomination “unanimously” after Democrats refused to take part in a procedural vote last week. “She’s unabashedly pro-life, but she’s not going to apply ‘the law of Amy’ to all of us.”
The International Declaration Is Just the Latest Effort to Undermine Abortion
Support for abortion is at an all-time high in the United States, yet, even as Election Day nears, the Trump administration has remained steadfast in its work to undermine access to this family planning option—here in the US and abroad.
The Geneva Consensus Declaration is simply the latest effort. In 2017, President Trump reinstated and has since expanded a global gag rule, which prevents foreign organizations that receive assistance from the US from providing information or referrals for legal abortion care.
About the new declaration, Jonathan Rucks, senior director of policy and advocacy at PAI, an advocacy group that promotes reproductive health care, told HuffPost: “This is the U.S. trying to normalize and legitimize a narrow perspective on human rights and health that is not in line with longstanding international agreements recognizing human rights, including reproductive rights. Having failed at gaining ‘consensus’ around their position in existing multilateral fora, the signers of this declaration, many of whom have questionable records on human rights, are creating an alternate reality where they define their own definitions and continue to stigmatize abortion.”