During the recent virtual meeting of the World Health Assembly-the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO)-the US submitted its written Explanation of Position (EOP) on the COVID-19 Response Resolution, disassociating itself from a number of paragraphs, including two related to “sexual and reproductive health”.
The US statement expressed regret at the failure to achieve consensus language in all areas of the resolution and explained:
“The United States dissociates from operative paragraphs 7.5 and 9.4. The United States strongly supports women reaching the highest attainable outcomes for health, life, dignity, and well-being throughout their lives. We champion access to high-quality health care for women and girls across the lifespan. However, we do not accept references to “sexual and reproductive health,” or other language that suggests or explicitly states that access to abortion is included in the provision of population and individual level health services. The United States believes in legal protections for the unborn, and rejects any interpretation of international human rights (such as General Comment 36 on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) to require any State Party to provide access to abortion. As President Trump has stated, ‘Americans will never tire of defending innocent life.’
Each nation has the sovereign right to implement related programs and activities consistent with their laws and policies, free from external pressure. There is no international right to abortion, nor is there any duty on the part of States to finance or facilitate abortion. Further, consistent with the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action and the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, we do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our global health assistance.”
UN “Experts” Object to US States’ Right to Decide Abortion Policy
Pro-abortion activists serving on the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls attacked US states for not treating abortion as “essential” during the COVID-19 crisis. In the release, United States: Authorities manipulating COVID-19 crisis to restrict access to abortion, issued by the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, the activists target Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Iowa, Ohio, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee.
According to Elizabeth Broderick, Vice-Chair of the Working Group, “We regret that the above-mentioned states, with a long history of restrictive practices against abortion, appear to be manipulating the crisis to severely restrict women’s reproductive rights.
“This situation is also the latest example illustrating a pattern of restrictions and retrogressions in access to legal abortion care across the country. We fear that, without clear political will to reverse such restrictive and regressive trends, states will continue pursuing this pattern.”
The Working Group also expressed its opposition to USAID’s letter to the UN Secretary General which requested the removal of references to “sexual and reproductive health and its derivatives” from the Global Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) on COVID-19.
Broderick said, “We reiterate that sexual and reproductive health services, including access to safe and legal abortion, are essential and must remain a key component of the UN’s priorities in its responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
PNCI notes that the Working Group disregards UN consensus agreed to in the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action which states in 8.25 “Any measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level according to the national legislative process”. State legislators are the ones to determine state policy on abortion, not abortion activists who are appointed by the Human Rights Council to serve on Special Procedures.