A Natural Right to Discriminate?
The US State Department recently created the Commission on Unalienable Rights. The new body will advise Secretary of State Pompeo and “provide a fresh thinking on human rights discourse where such discourse has departed from our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights.”
Despite its innocuous name, the concept of natural law has been used by anti-rights actors to attack women’s and LGBTQI rights, particularly as related to the structure of families. The commission’s mandate to reexamine human rights discourse seeks to place the US above international human rights norms and threatens global progress on issues like same-sex marriage, protections for marginalized groups, and abortion rights.
The administration’s desire to return to a society guided by its own definition of natural law is central to its extreme anti-rights agenda. This thinking is mirrored by regressive governments and groups globally—notably at the World Congress of Families conference in Verona and the Make Families Great Again conference, which was hosted by the Hungarian government and attended by Trump administration officials.
New Leadership at the United Nations
Last week, the Senate held confirmation hearings for Kelly Craft and Andrew Bremberg, the Trump administration’s nominees for US ambassador to the United Nations and US ambassador to the United Nations Mission in Geneva, respectively.
Craft is a Republican donor and currently serves as the US ambassador to Canada. Nothing in her limited experience suggests that she has the necessary skills, temperament, or inclination to challenge the administration’s regressive policies. Read IWHC’s full statement on Craft’s nomination here.
Bremberg is an anti-abortion ideologue. In his confirmation hearing, he told senators that he believes “human life begins at conception” and that even survivors of rape should not have access to abortion services. In his previous role, he was involved in drafting the Trump administration’s expanded Mexico City Policy, better known as the Global Gag Rule, which reduces access to safe abortion, contraception, and HIV/AIDS services, and is killing women and girls globally. Learn more about the impact of the Global Gag Rule in IWHC’s new report Crisis in Care: Year Two Impact of Trump’s Global Gag Rule. Bremberg also served as the co-chair of the Department of Health and Human Services’ transition team and helped staff the department with religious hardliners. If confirmed, Bremberg will lead diplomacy at the World Health Organization, where he is expected to advance policies that restrict access to sexual and reproductive health care services. The Senate should reject his nomination.
Weakening Health Care Protections
In its latest attack on health care access, the Trump administration announced its intent to revise an Obama-era guidance that prohibits discrimination against women, the LGBTQI community, and people with limited English proficiency in health care.
The new ruling removes protections for people who have terminated a pregnancy and expands protections for providers that deny care based on personal beliefs. This is particularly worrying for the LGBTQI community as the revised rule allows for the denial of care based not only on the requested service but on the gender identity of the patient. The advancement of these so-called “conscience clauses” has been a goal of the administration as it pursues a draconian agenda in line with evangelical doctrine.
The rule is currently open for comment through August 13.
Photo: Gage Skidmore