Trumping Women’s Rights Digest: Delivering a Global Lens on the Administration’s Fight Against Women’s Health
House Democrats Introduce Bill to Reinstate Reporting on Reproductive Rights
The administration’s decision to remove the reproductive rights section from the State Department’s annual Human Rights Reports sparked outrage among global health advocates. Now, House Democrats have responded by introducing the Reproductive Rights Are Human Rights Act—a critical piece of legislation that would require the State Department to include reporting on reproductive rights in its Human Rights Reports.
The reports have historically served as a valuable tool to shed light on human rights violations, and for advocates and diplomats to foster dialogue and accountability.
The bill, introduced by representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Lois Frankel (D-FL) is the culmination of efforts by civil society and pro-choice representatives. In September, the Center for Reproductive Rights sued the State Department for refusing to release records relating to the erasure of reproductive rights reporting—this was followed by a second lawsuit in December. In October, 129 Democratic representatives called on Secretary of State Pompeo to reinstate reporting on reproductive rights. To compliment this effort, IWHC and 96 other reproductive health organizations also sent a letter to Pompeo, urging him to include reporting on sexual and reproductive rights in the Human Rights Reports.
With an incoming pro-choice House of Representatives, IWHC is hopeful that the Reproductive Rights Are Human Rights Act will not only pass, but also serve as a first step in reprioritizing reproductive rights in US foreign policy.
White House Scores C- on Sexual and Reproductive Health Index
It comes as no surprise that a new index by the Center for Health and Gender Equity, ranking the US government’s global work on sexual and reproductive health and rights assigned poor grades to the Trump-Pence administration. According to the Index, the White House saw the greatest decline from 2016 to 2017, scoring an A- and C-, respectively. The grade was due to harmful policies and budget cuts, such as the administration’s expanded Global Gag Rule, its attempt to eliminate the entire international family planning budget, and its decision to withhold funding from the United Nations Population Fund—the largest international provider of contraception, family planning, and other sexual and reproductive health services.
The Index, created in partnership with the George Washington University Global Women’s Institute, also graded the State Department, Department of Health and Human Resources, Department of Defense, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and Congress. All except for USAID saw a decline in their grades due to irresponsible policies and budgets that align with the administration’s anti-choice agenda.
UN Update: Heather Nauert Nominated to Succeed Haley
The nomination of Heather Nauert as US ambassador to the United Nations signals a continuation of the Trump-Pence administration’s regressive policies at the UN. Nauert, currently the State Department spokesperson, is a former anchor on Fox News and has no prior diplomatic experience.
While at the State Department, Nauert defended the administration’s reckless decision to scale back reporting on women and LGBTQI individuals, and remove reproductive rights from the State Department Human Rights Reports.
If confirmed, Nauert would succeed Nikki Haley. As UN ambassador, Haley ostracized civil society, removed the US from the Human Rights Council, undermined sexual and reproductive health and rights, and oversaw an overall decline in US leadership at the United Nations.
“There is nothing in Nauert’s record to suggest that she would restrain the administration’s efforts to censor language or to undermine and remove UN commitments on gender equality, sexuality education, and sexual and reproductive health and rights,” IWHC Director of Advocacy and Policy Shannon Kowalski notes.
Read our full statement on Nauert’s nomination here.
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