In the latest attack on women’s global health, officials at the United States State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor will curtail the section on women’s reproductive rights and family planning in the annual report on human rights.
According to Politico, which cited five unnamed state department officials, an order was handed down to cut language from a section of the annual report that usually discusses family planning, women’s reproductive rights and health, and discrimination against women. Additionally, a section on LGBTQ and racial and ethnic discrimination will also be shortened.
According to Human Rights Watch, “The United Nations Committee Against Torture has found denial of a woman’s reproductive rights as tantamount to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. Access to contraception and safe abortion are critical to help prevent the estimated 800 maternal deaths that occur each day globally.”
The annual report is used by NGOs and policy makers to address human rights and reproductive rights across the globe. The report deadline is February 25 and is tentatively scheduled to be release this week.
The order to curtail the section on reproductive rights is not considered by women’s rights advocates to be surprising. State Department has yet to appoint anyone to serve in the position of ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues. In addition, the Trump Administration reinstated and expanded the Global Gag Rule last year, a deadly U.S. policy that forbids international nongovernmental organizations (NGO) recieving U.S. global health funding from providing counseling or even referencing abortion, even if these activities are done with non-U.S. funds.
Marie Stopes estimates that Trump’s Global Gag will lead to the deaths of more than 21,000 additional women over the next three years. It is estimated that over 50,000 women a year already die from unsafe abortions around the globe. According to the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, 800 women die every day from preventable pregnancy related causes.
Media Resources: Politico 2/21/18, The Hill 2/22/18; Human Rights Watch 2/22/18