Why Abortion Battles in America Won’t Halt Reform Abroad
By Nina Brooks, Minzee Kim, Elizabeth Heger Boyle, and Wesley Longhofer
June 16, 2022
Any day now, the U.S. Supreme Court will release a ruling that is likely to overturn its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, the case that affirmed a constitutional right to abortion. Reversing Roe would have profound implications for abortion access in the United States. Such a decision would also have ramifications abroad, particularly if a judicial ruling empowers future U.S. presidential administrations to push for restrictions on abortion in other parts of the world.
It is important, however, not to overstate U.S. influence on global abortion policy. The 1973 case was a landmark in allowing abortion access and served as an example to abortion advocates across the world. But in the 50 years since, the United States’ international messaging on abortion has been incoherent.
The conservative backlash against efforts to expand sexual and reproductive rights in the Americas threatens a dangerous regression in human rights.
Lynn M. Morgan
June 4, 2021
It has been a good year for Latin American sexual and reproductive rights movements. Costa Rica became the first Central American country to legalize same-sex marriage in May 2020, and Argentina legalized abortion in December 2020. The Biden-Harris administration moved quickly in 2021 to rescind former President Trump’s Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule; disband former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Commission on Unalienable Rights; and renounce the Geneva Consensus Declaration, which included the assertion that there is “no international right to abortion.” Optimists note a wave of support for sexual and reproductive rights in Mexico, Chile, Colombia, and elsewhere in the hemisphere.
February 10, 2021
by Cassie Ransom
The Organization for World Peace
On the 28th of January, President Biden released a memorandum intended to reverse the harm to women’s reproductive healthcare inflicted by the Trump administration. Among other things, the memorandum ordered the withdrawal of the U.S’s signature and sponsorship of the Geneva Consensus Declaration, a controversial international anti-abortion declaration.
The declaration was unveiled in October of 2020 by the then-Director of the U.S Central Intelligence Agency Mike Pompeo. It claims to “improve and secure access to health and development gains for women, including sexual and reproductive health, which must always promote optimal health, the highest attainable standard of health” as well as protect the health of the family and affirm women’s fundamental human rights. The central tenet of the document, however, is the assertion that “the child… needs special safeguards and care… before as well as after birth” and “there is no international right to abortion, nor any international obligation on the part of States to finance or facilitate abortion.”
‘The gag rule has had a trickle down impact by affecting access to other lifesaving services.’
28 January 2021
Claire Porter Robbins
When the Trump administration reinstated the “global gag rule” in 2017, the
International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) lost some $100 million in funding in the following years, impacting a spectrum of healthcare projects in 32 countries and going well beyond the intended goal of preventing abortions.
A health clinic in Haiti’s southern coastal town of Jacmel was one of the first casualties.
Joe Biden has pledged to reverse the anti-abortion restrictions on foreign aid. But many changes made in response to the ‘global gag rule’ already may be permanent.
Nov 11, 2020
Sarah Varney, Kaiser Health News
In Ethiopia, health clinics for teenagers once supported by U.S. foreign aid closed down.
In Kenya, a decades-long effort to integrate HIV testing and family planning unraveled.
In Nepal, government workers who once traversed the Himalayas to spread information about reproductive health were halted.
As reluctant as Pompeo and the rest of the Trump administration may be to follow the law, the fact remains: The U.S. is party to a number of human rights treaties that protect abortion rights—and adhering to these treaties is a legal requirement.
by MERRITE JOHNSON
Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed the Geneva Consensus Declaration, a U.S.-led document that fired yet another shot across the bow at reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy. Bookended by a bizarre montage video, the signing ceremony was touted as a watershed moment in the fight against an international movement to declare a right to abortion at the expense of traditional family values. The only problem? There very much is an international right to abortion.
Ardila Syakriah and Dian Septiari, Jakarta
Sat, October 31 2020
A coalition of Indonesian women rights groups have lambasted the government for signing an anti-abortion convention rolled out by the United States, saying the government cosponsored it without proper public consultation.
The coalition deemed the signing of the convention unconstitutional and harmful to the sexual and reproductive health of Indonesian women because it might lead to more unsafe abortion practices and subsequently, more maternal deaths.
OCT 23, 2020
Poland, Saudi Arabia and 29 other countries have joined the United States in signing a declaration on women’s health that denies the right to abortion, promotes “the family as foundational to society”, and emphasises “each nation’s sovereign right” to implement its own policies in these areas.
The document – officially titled the Geneva Consensus Declaration on Promoting Women’s Health and Strengthening the Family – is seen as a rebuke to United Nations human rights bodies that have sought to protect access to abortion, notes the Washington Post.
By Miriam Berger
Oct. 22, 2020
The United States joined Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia and Uganda on Thursday to co-sponsor a nonbinding international antiabortion declaration, in a rebuke of United Nations human rights bodies that have sought to protect abortion access.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar participated in the virtual signing ceremony. The Geneva Consensus Declaration aims to promote women’s health, “defends the unborn and reiterates the vital importance of the family,” Pompeo said at the ceremony.
‘US policies have restricted access to comprehensive and often lifesaving, reproductive healthcare.’
Anu Kumar and Patty Skuster, Ipas
15 October 2020
At this moment in US political history, Americans have a chance to rid the United States of its contradictory, confusing, and ideologically driven approach to reproductive health around the world.
The United States is the largest donor to global health and humanitarian assistance. But for decades it has been a case study in contradictions when it comes to aid and foreign policy, and in no area is this more evident than reproductive health and rights, particularly abortion.