December 7, 2018

The nomination of William P. Barr for US Attorney General continues the Trump-Pence administration’s trend of nominating ideologues to critical posts responsible for protecting the rule of law and civil rights, said the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC).

“Barr’s history of hostility toward women, immigrants, and people living with HIV and AIDS make him an unfit candidate for US Attorney General,” said IWHC Director of Advocacy and Policy Shannon Kowalski. “As the country’s chief implementer of laws, the Attorney General must have a record of fairness and respect for the rights of women. In this respect, Barr is severely lacking.”

As Attorney General, Barr would have the responsibility to protect and uphold the constitutional right to abortion and to protect, without prejudice, the rights of women, patients, and asylum seekers. This is critical as both sexual and reproductive health and rights and immigration are constantly under attack by the Trump-Pence administration. Neglecting the victims of such attacks based on politics is not only an injustice, but directly encourages other countries to politicize the rule of law.

If confirmed, Barr, who previously served as Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush, will succeed Jeff Sessions. During Barr’s tenure, the Department of Justice denied people living with HIV and AIDS, and Haitians seeking refuge, entry into the United States. Instead, Barr held them under quarantine at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, stating that he had no intention on bringing “these people” to the US. In his confirmation process, Barr explicitly stated that the right to privacy does not include abortion, and that the Supreme Court’s landmark case on abortion, Roe v. Wade, was wrongfully decided and should be overturned.

Barr’s xenophobic tendencies would undermine human rights both domestically and internationally, and would have detrimental impacts on longstanding US global health priorities such as reducing HIV and AIDS and maternal mortality. IWHC urges the Senate to reject his nomination.

Contact: Liza Kane-Hartnett; (+1) 212-801-1260

Photo: Wikimedia Commons