G7 Rejects Abortion Language in Final Communique

By | August 29, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. August 30 (C-Fam)  G7 leaders of the world’s largest economies rejected the recommendation of an advisory panel that abortion language be included among the group’s final communiques.

This is the second year in row governments have rejected abortion language from the G7 Gender Advisory Council.

The advisory panel issued a call to action demanding that governments guarantee “exercise of sexual and reproductive health and rights, including access to modern contraception and safe abortion information and services.” In a more detailed set of recommendations, the council described access to “safe” abortion as “a fundamental right,” and praised Canada’s laws for having no gestational limits.  They cited this as in keeping with World Health Organization recommendations to treat abortion “as any other medical procedure rather than a legal process.”

The council also urged nations to follow France’s example and enact laws against online “misinformation on safe abortion.”  Such laws can be used to target crisis pregnancy centers and other pro-life sites warning against the harms of abortion.

The council was established last year during Canada’s presidency of the G7, and was continued under the French presidency, and is made up of a group of independent activists, scholars, and experts.  Its recommendations were published as an annex to the official documents of the G7 summit.  While its members include some government officials, including the U.S. ambassador to France, the presentation of their recommendations included a disclaimer that it should not be taken as “a government document of endorsed recommendations.”

Nevertheless, abortion advocates were once again frustrated to be left on the sidelines of the official outcomes.  Before the start of the summit, the feminist group W7 published an op-ed complaining, “no feminist association will be sitting at the negotiation table with the G-7 leaders.”  Instead, they published an “alternative gender declaration” insisting that “all commitments” should include “sexual and reproductive health and rights.”

When the summit concluded, W7 was not impressed: “France failed to embody a feminist diplomacy within this G7 and several key gender equality issues did not make it into the G7 leaders’ agenda.”

France was not alone in facing feminist criticism.  Before the summit, the research director of the G7 Research Group at the University of Toronto predicted that although past G7 declarations have included language on “sexual and reproductive rights,” “it seems unlikely to do so at Biarritz with Trump at the summit table given his administration’s regressive policies on the subject.”

Katja Iversen, a two-time member of the Gender Advisory Council and president of the pro-abortion group Women Deliver, acknowledged the accuracy of that prediction.  “Not in!” she tweeted.

Another member of the council was Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women.  In her remarks at the G7 summit, she called on governments to “guarantee health for all, including on sexual and reproductive health and rights.” Mlambo-Ngcuka and Iversen were also co-authors of an op-ed in the Guardian, where they decried recent laws that “deny sexual and reproductive rights.”  By way of explanation, the authors linked to another Guardianarticle about C-Fam.

In 2020, the U.S. will take over the presidency of the G7, led by President Trump.