Trump Could Lose Abortion Showdown with the EU

By | May 31, 2019

NEW YORK, May 31 (C-Fam) When the Trump administration threatened to veto a German sponsored resolution with abortion-related terms at the Security Council it exposed a growing problem in transatlantic relations over UN social policy.

The power-players in the European Union — primarily the United Kingdom, France and Germany — want to promote abortion as a human right through UN policy. The United States has slammed the brakes on these plans.

Using its Security Council veto power, the administration managed for the first time to roll-back the abortion-related term “sexual and reproductive health.” It remains to be seen if the administration can continue to roll-back the term from other UN resolutions when it does not have veto power.

This month, the Trump administration asked to delete the term “sexual and reproductive health” in a resolution on emergency humanitarian assistance of the UN Economic and Social Council, the second largest UN normative body, composed of 54 members. Negotiations are ongoing and are expected to wrap up in the coming weeks.

Without the veto power, as in the Security Council, European influence is likely to overshadow U.S. proposals, especially without a full-scale global campaign from the Trump administration to contrast EU campaigns to promote abortion policy.

Despite the fact that several EU countries are governed by nationalist parties that ran on a pro-life platform, the EU delegation still has instructions to promote “sexual and reproductive health” and other abortion-related terms from the EU Council as a matter of priority. It remains unclear how much of a priority international pro-life policy is for the Trump administration.

Conservatives in the U.S. have made unprecedented inroads in international social policy through the Trump administration.

Beginning last Spring, a string of articles in mainstream media and foreign policy publications drew attention to internal struggles in the Trump administration over the importance the administration should give to international pro-life policy.

According to these, the U.S. State Department has instructed U.S. diplomats to ask for the deletion of abortion-related terms like “sexual and reproductive health” from international agreements, consistent with the Helms Amendment and the Mexico City Policy.

The Friday Fax has observed more consistent pro-life interventions of the Trump administration in recent UN negotiations in the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and the Security Council. In all those negotiations the United States has repeatedly clashed with the EU delegation and EU power-players, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.

During the last General Assembly, EU diplomats boasted that the European Union was collectively the largest international aid donor, even greater than the United States. And EU ministers and diplomats backed that rhetoric with a full-court press in capitals around the world asking them to oppose any U.S. pro-life initiatives at the UN.

The Trump administration did not mount systematic diplomatic efforts through capitals to ask other countries to support U.S. pro-life policy at the time, and predictably lost all support.

U.S. personnel have found that advancing a pro-life position at the UN is a remarkably difficult task. There has been resistance from inside the State Department as well as strong resistance from the EU and their allies, along with the UN agencies, and the media. The U.S. veto threat at the Security Council was the strongest position to date.

It is clear the EU is prepared to marshal a global campaign to defeat U.S. efforts to roll back abortion advocacy at the UN. Trump allies hope the State Department will match the EU’s efforts through direct communications with national capitals.