Abortion May be Downplayed in U.S. Human Rights Report, Feminists Angry

By | March 1, 2018

NEW YORK, March 2 (C-Fam) Feminists and gays are up in arms about reported changes to the annual U.S. State Department report on human rights.

The annual report looks around the globe and reports on how countries are doing with regard to human rights, a sometimes-slippery notion. Some say abortion is a human right, for instance. Others say “sexual orientation and gender identity” is a protected category in international law.

Widely agreed-upon human rights categories include freedom of religion, assembly, political self-determination, and many others. In recent decades, efforts have been underway to exponentially expand human rights to include more controversial categories such as abortion and contraception.

Some State Department employees have gone anonymously to the left-leaning online publication Politico to claim that presumed human rights to abortion and sexuality are under attack in the annual report being prepared now.

Of chief concern to the State Department leakers is a passage in the report that refers to women’s “access” to contraception and abortion. They also claim the new report will “pare down” a section on racial, ethnic, and sexual discrimination. An anonymous State Department employee told Politico, “This sends a clear signal that women’s reproductive rights are not a priority for this administration, and that it’s not even a right violation we must or should report on.”

Abortion advocates in the State Department are also concerned that the report will back off on reporting “unmet need” for modern means of contraception as a human rights category. “Unmet need” was never a human rights category, but rather it was used by international development experts, some of whom have since repudiated it.

Likewise, the term “reproductive rights” does not appear in any UN human rights treaty and when it was defined in UN documents in 1994 and 1995, it did not include a right to abortion.  “Sexual orientation and gender identity” does not appear in any binding document, has been repeatedly rejected by nations as a category of non-discrimination. It only appears a few times in nonbinding documents and then only in the context of calling for reports.

The U.S. Congress has not passed any law naming sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected category in domestic law, something LGBT activists have worked to achieve for many years.

Politico, and presumably its State Department contact, also lament that the Catholic Church will not be listed as contributing to human rights violations in countries where it voices an opinion on homosexuality.

The report has been issued over the past eight years by left-of-center political appointees of the Obama administration and their allies among the permanent staff at the State Department. Such ideological advances are thought by some to be irreversible no matter who occupies the White House and the reins of power at the State Department.

Human rights experts point out that attempts to expand human rights to include areas that are not agreed upon has had the inevitable result of watering down and harming well-established human rights dating back to the founding of the United Nations. If the powerful governments like the United States assert abortion as a human right even when nations have not agreed to it, then it is much easier for totalitarian regimes to reject the most basic human rights such as life, liberty, security of person and freedom of religion.