The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) is deeply troubled by reports that Penny Young Nance is the Trump Administration’s choice to spearhead US efforts to promote gender equality and the human rights of women and girls around the world. Nance, who has a well-documented history of extreme and regressive positions on women’s rights, women’s health, and LGBT rights, is woefully unfit to serve as Ambassador-at-Large for the Office of Global Women’s Issues at the Department of State. IWHC strongly opposes the selection of Nance for this or any role within the Administration.
Nance has an extensive record of championing policy rooted in religion and ideology, rather than in fact and science. She opposed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the hallmark U.S. law to prevent and respond to gender-based violence arguing that husbands and marriage are a woman’s safest haven. The Act, she wrote, “merely promotes feminist and homosexual ideology while failing to directly help women.” Her disdain for a woman’s right to not be violated regardless of her marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity, makes it clear that Nance is not qualified to fulfill the mandate of the Office of Global Women’s Issues.
As Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, Nance would typically helm the United States delegation to the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations. The Commission is one of the most significant global gatherings on women’s rights, drawing representatives from governments around the world, UN agencies, and nonprofit organizations. The extremist positions Nance has sought to further make her an unbefitting choice to represent the US in global negotiations aimed at advancing gender equality and promoting women’s rights.
Nance’s statements against transgender rights have been particularly egregious, with Nance going so far as to say that transgender rights pose a major threat to women and that “we cannot be expected to participate in someone else’s delusion.” She has actively supported so-called “Heartbeat Bills,” legislation that would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected (at around six weeks of pregnancy), and potentially land doctors in prison, despite a lack of medical evidence to support such a restrictive ban. Her anti-abortion views are so extreme that she has even suggested that women facing life-threatening complications from pregnancy should carry their fetus to term.
Nance has proven, time and again, through her personal statements and the positions of the organization she leads, Concerned Women for America, that her priorities are completely misaligned with strides made globally and domestically to ensure the rights of women and girls. The Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues should be an advocate and a champion for women and girls of all stripes; Nance has made a career of furthering policies that undermine the health, autonomy and human rights of the most marginalized women.
We call on the Trump Administration to abandon any efforts to nominate Penny Young Nance for Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues. In the event her nomination does proceed, we urge the Senate to unequivocally reject her.
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