Gutting Global Reproductive Health, US Continues Its Assault

Trumping Women’s Rights Digest: Delivering a Global Lens on the Administration’s Fight Against Women’s Health

Reproductive Health Organizations Fight State Department Censorship

In a continuation of its hostility toward sexual and reproductive health, the Trump-Pence administration has reportedly prohibited the use of widely accepted terms such as “sexual and reproductive health,” “comprehensive sexuality education,” and others relating to sex, sexuality, and gender. In response, the International Women’s Health Coalition, together with more than 80 organizations, sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to stop censoring US diplomats. These reckless and unprecedented attacks women’s health—not to mention free speech—undermine nearly 25 years of global consensus and endanger decades of progress on global health.

“The attempt to erase sexual and reproductive health and rights from US policy and prohibit diplomats from using related terms has grave consequences for global health, including efforts to combat HIV/AIDS and improve maternal health” says IWHC Director of Advocacy and Policy Shannon Kowalski. “IWHC saw the consequences of these policies first-hand at the recent UN Third Committee, where the US delegation repeatedly proposed amendments to weaken global commitments on resolutions concerning child marriage and violence against women.”

Read the full letter here.

Ongoing Attack on Women’s Rights at the UN

Just days after failing to weaken UN commitments to child marriage, the US was up to its same old tricks. As it did throughout the UN General Assembly Third Committee session, the US sought to remove and water down language on sexual and reproductive health and rights with the aim of undermining UN consensus on issues of contraception, comprehensive sexuality education, and abortion. In order to weaken the language, the US proposed multiple amendments including the wholesale deletion of reproductive rights from the resolution on violence against women. After their efforts failed the US disassociated itself from all language on sexual and reproductive health across the Third Committee.

Shockingly, this all played out in the days leading up to International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women, and the subsequent 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. As a result, the Trump-Pence administration further isolated itself from its allies and missed a valuable opportunity to demonstrate US commitment to ending violence against women.

Redirecting Global Health Funding to the Religious Right

Trump’s Global Gag Rule is already the most far-reaching iteration of the devastating policy that bans US funding to organizations that provide counseling, referrals, or advocacy for abortion-related services. Now, the administration is actively redirecting global health funds once used by reputable health providers to conservative Christian groups that align with its regressive views. Continuing the trend of using religious liberty to discriminate, the State Department’s inaugural meeting on “religious freedom” served as a forum to encourage policies that allow for health care providers to deny services based on personal beliefs. The meeting was also used to train religious groups about applying for government health contracts. The revelation highlights the religious right’s increasing influence on foreign policy.

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Photo: US Department of State

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