Global Justice Center Blog

Trump Administration Launches Declaration Attacking Human Right to Abortion Access

NEW YORK — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today signed a declaration opposing the human right to abortion access and elevating notions of the traditional family and motherhood. The “Geneva Consensus Declaration” was initiated by the US and was co-sponsored by Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, Uganda, and signed by 32 countries.

Akila Radhakrishnan, President of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“This declaration is nothing less than an assault on decades of progress for the health and rights of women around the world. Let's be clear: abortion is healthcare and a human right — no matter what the US or any of the other countries who signed this statement say.

“Despite what Secretaries Azar and Pompeo said, this administration has never ‘put women's health first.’ Rather, this administration has consistently both women's bodies, here at home and abroad, last. For evidence, look no further than its expanded ‘Global Gag Rule,’ which has devastated critical healthcare for women around the world

“Just because these regressive governments keep asserting that abortion is not a human right, doesn't make it true; the international human rights framework is clear on this issue. There is a reason why none of the US’ traditional allies, nor countries with strong records on human rights, joined this declaration — it flies in the face of decades of hard-fought victories for the rights of women.”

October News Update: 20 Years of Women Demanding Power

On October 31, 2000, the United Nations Security Council handed down a bold vision mandating the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women in all aspects of peace and security. Sadly, much of the progress made since then remains rhetoric rather than a reality for most women around the world.

Even worse, what progress we have made is under threat from powerful, patriarchal governments. Countries like the United States and Russia continue to make clear their hostility to the women, peace, and security agenda.

Stand with us as we fight back attacks and push for progress on this critical tool in the fight for gender equality.

Read the Full Newsletter

Prioritizing the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda in the First Hundred Days

Since the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) recognizing the vital role of  women in peacebuilding, peacekeeping, and post-conflict recovery, the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS)  Agenda has gained global recognition. In the two decades since, the United States (U.S.) has taken steps to  

elevate WPS in its foreign and national security policies. In particular, in 2011, President Obama launched the  first U.S. National Action Plan on WPS via executive order, which was subsequently updated in 2016. In 2018,  Congress enacted the landmark WPS Act. In 2019, pursuant to the WPS Act, the Trump Administration released  the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS Strategy). In 2020, the U.S. Agency for International  Development (USAID), as well as the Departments of Defense, State, and Homeland Security, as required by  the WPS Act, rolled-out agency-specific implementation plans to operationalize the WPS Strategy.

Download the full Letter 

An Unequal World: Are universal human rights actually possible?

Excerpt of CBC Radio program that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

"We set something out there that's aspirational, but it doesn't make it perfect," Radakrishnan tells IDEAS. She explains that a common issue in the discourse around human rights is the focus is often on protecting the law and "not about protecting the people."

"If something is written in a way that is too much in the colonial tradition, we need to rethink it.

"We should be listening to those voices and thinking about how to adapt (the law) and put it into practice in a way that responds to real needs."

Listen to the program

Reproducing Patriarchy: How the Trump Administration has Undermined Women’s Access to Reproductive Health Care

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Since taking office, the Trump administration has unleashed a blitz of regressive and discriminatory laws and policies. Of the many issues under attack, few have seen similar ire and attention as sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Both internationally and domestically, the Trump administration has engaged in a broad, systematic effort to undermine reproductive choice and bodily autonomy. 

Internationally, the Trump administration has attempted to undermine international law and institutions that protect SRHR and has cut funding for organizations that promote reproductive rights and services. Within days of taking office, President Trump reinstated and expanded the Global Gag Rule, an onerous policy that limits funding for foreign non-governmental organizations that provide abortion services as a method of family planning and restricts a wide variety of speech about abortion services, research, and advocacy, with well-documented detrimental impacts on sexual and reproductive health, HIV and AIDS services, and maternal mortality. The Trump administration has attempted to erase language on SRHR from governmental and inter-governmental documents, such as in the State Department’s annual human rights report, United Nations (UN) negotiated documents, and UN resolutions.  In 2019, the United States (US) cut funding to the Organization of American States (OAS), a quasi-governmental regional body, for allegedly violating restrictions on lobbying for abortion rights by commenting on state practice on reproductive choice. Most recently, the unlawfully formed and operated State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights, created to advise the Secretary of State on human rights and intended to inform US foreign policy, issued a draft report which misrepresents the nature of the international human rights framework and inaccurately frames access to abortion as a “divisive social and political controvers[y]” rather than an established right under international law. 

The Trump administration’s attacks on reproductive rights are not limited to international and foreign-policy related targets. Domestically, the Trump administration has also taken steps to erode protections for SRHR, including by targeting the Title X Family Planning program with new regulations, Compliance with Statutory Program Integrity Requirements (the Final Rule), published on March 4, 2019. The Final Rule imposes a number of new physical, financial, and administrative burdens on clinics receiving Title X funding in an effort to restrict women’s access to particular reproductive health information and services. As this report documents, the Final Rule violates fundamental human rights and the US’ obligations under international human rights law. Although the US has attempted to minimize or ignore its international human rights obligations, as shown in the recent Commission on Unalienable Rights draft document, this report reviews the substantive obligations of the US and the binding nature of these legal obligations. 

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