Trump Administration Fiercely Defends Pro-Life Law and Policies Internationally

By | June 28, 2019

GENEVA, June 28 (C-Fam) The Trump administration warned the United Nations to stop promoting abortion in conflict and other emergency situations at an annual meeting on UN humanitarian efforts that took place in Geneva this week.

“The UN should not be in the business of supporting abortion, whether in its humanitarian or development work and its reports and should not advocate for the creation of new human rights regarding sexual and reproductive health. The United States supports efforts toward universal access to healthcare but rejects efforts to describe abortion falsely as a human right,” a U.S. delegate told an annual UN conference on the UN’s humanitarian work.

The U.S. also presented an amendment to a resolution that gives direction to UN agencies entities, putting them on notice to stop promoting abortion. Washington sent messages to 54 national capitals of the Economic and Social Council member states to back its position.

UN member states that support abortion convinced countries of the G77 UN voting bloc, made up of 127 countries, to vote against the U.S. amendment on procedural grounds. Behind closed doors, sources told the Friday Fax, the leadership of the group instructed countries in the group to vote against the U.S. proposal.

Nevertheless, 9 countries abstained from the vote, Jamaica voted in favor of the U.S. amendment, and 13 other delegations were not present in the room. Brazil, who abstained, further defied the G77 bloc by expressing support for U.S. pro-life concerns.

The EU delegation complained about the U.S. amendment. They said that the UN recognized that there are “divergent views” on abortion internationally but insisted on the importance of preserving the ambiguous term “sexual and reproductive health” in UN policy as a compromise, calling it “carefully crafted and balanced.” Statements from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as Egypt echoed that position.

The U.S. disagreed that the language of UN policy was sufficient to ensure the neutrality of the UN system on abortion.

The U.S. delegates specifically mentioned the work of UN agencies on the UN Inter-agency manual on reproductive health in emergencies.

The manual includes a chapter on “comprehensive abortion care” which urges countries to provide abortions “to the full extent of the law.” According to the non-binding opinions of UN experts cited in the report itself, abortion is described as a right under humanitarian law. Though these opinions have no legal weight in and of themselves, UN Agencies treat them as if they were binding judicial opinions with precedential value.

“The only way to rectify the direction of the UN agencies and secretariat in this regard, is for UN member states to provide unambiguous normative guidance by qualifying ambiguous abortion-related terms like sexual and reproductive health in UN documents and resolutions, so UN agencies can no longer misread them as including abortion,” explained the U.S. delegate.

The notion of a humanitarian right to abortion directly conflicts with U.S. foreign aid law as amended in 1973 by the Helms Amendment, which prohibits any U.S. taxpayer funds from promoting or paying for abortions abroad.

The statements of the U.S. government in Geneva indicate that the Trump administration will continue to apply the Helms amendment as it has been applied since 1973.