Update: IWHC and more than 60 other organizations oppose the confirmation of Mike Pompeo as US Secretary of State. Read the full statement [PDF].
As US President Donald Trump took to Twitter to announce his dismissal of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he also announced the nomination of current CIA Director and former Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo as his replacement. The selection of Pompeo to be Secretary of State would elevate yet another ultra-conservative ideologue with regressive views on women to a position of influence within the Trump administration, and, if confirmed by the Senate, he would gain control of polices and funding that affect millions of women’s health and lives.
Pompeo has an abysmal record on women’s health, LGBTQ rights, and a variety of other issues—and a reputation as an aggressively partisan ideologue. The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) strongly opposes his selection to lead US foreign policy and diplomatic engagement, and urges the US Senate to reject his nomination.
Pompeo’s record speaks volumes. As a member of Congress, Mike Pompeo consistently and aggressively opposed women’s access to abortion and other reproductive health services, both in the United States and around the world. During his congressional tenure, he supported provisions to prohibit federal funds for health benefits that include any coverage of abortion; legislation to permanently prohibit US contributions to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA); a ban on funding to Planned Parenthood; and legislation to give fetuses equal protection under the 14th amendment of the Constitution. He has pledged to “defend life from conception to natural death.”
Pompeo has also spoken about the “solemnity of marriage,” the “traditional institution of marriage,” and has been a vocal opponent of LGBTQ rights. During his congressional tenure, he cosponsored the State Marriage Defense Act and the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, both efforts to limit marriage equality. He voted against the Violence Against Women Act because a revised version of the bill included same sex couples. He condemned the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality decision, as well as the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
As he exits Foggy Bottom, Secretary Tillerson leaves behind an appalling record on women’s health and rights. Most recently, under his leadership, the department announced the removal of critical information on women’s rights and discrimination from the agency’s annual Human Right’s Reports. The State Department has been at the forefront of the Trump administration’s attacks on women around the world, including the reinstatement and expansion of the Global Gag Rule and the defunding of UNFPA, the largest international provider of contraception, family planning, and other reproductive health services.
If confirmed, Pompeo will inherit an agency crippled by vacancies and staff departures. His alignment with Trump’s America First agenda suggest he will do little to reverse this administration’s retreat from multilateralism, global commitments, and international human rights norms.
This is a critical moment for US global leadership. Mike Pompeo is ill suited to lead US foreign policy and diplomatic engagement. His appointment is bad news for women and girls, and for individuals of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.
Photo: Gage Skidmore