by ELENA SARVER, Ms. Magazine
Last month, the Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments in a case that could set off a new era of abortion bans across much of the country. It also marked the start of President Biden’s Democracy Summit, a high-level conference bringing together world leaders, civil society and the private sector to discuss challenges and opportunities facing democracy internationally. One of the stated themes of this first of two planned summits is a focus on human rights.
The proximity of these two moments is more than mere coincidence. Yes, the U.S. faces an unprecedented crisis for the right to abortion. But we must also recognize the numerous links between democracy and reproductive rights. A most basic and fundamental freedom in a democracy is the ability to control decision-making around one’s own reproduction. When this freedom is removed, it threatens the ability of half of the country’s population to participate equally in society. So, if the U.S. hopes to credibly host a marquee event to promote its return to global democratic leadership, it must contend with cracks in that facade here at home.
BY MICHELLE ONELLO, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR
The Trump administration has been executing a coordinated attack on what it sees as a critical public health issue. Unfortunately, the offensive is not targeting the COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected over six million people and claimed almost 200,000 lives in the US. Instead, the campaign has its sights set on women’s sexual health and reproductive rights, especially abortion. With the recent death of Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg threatening the fate of Roe v. Wade, the security of abortion rights has never been more precarious.
The administration’s brazen anti-abortion agenda includes not only well-publicized executive actions such as the expansions of the global and domestic gag rules, “conscience” exemptions to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, and the packing of courts with anti-abortion judges.
African countries are trying to liberalize their abortion laws. Trump’s ‘global gag rule’ is making that difficult.
Activists say the policy has forced some countries to take a step backward
March 5, 2020
In 2016, churches in the small southeastern African country of Malawi did something surprising: They backed a law to expand abortion access.
At the time, Reverend Alex Benson Maulana, chair of the Malawi Council of Churches (MCC), said that abortion was still a sin. But Malawi was also facing a crisis: In a country with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, 18 percent of those deaths were due to unsafe abortions.
How Trump's latest efforts to stop abortion increasingly undermine global health
Canada recently committed a record amount toward safe abortion services. Will that be enough to combat the impacts of the US' revised ‘global gag rule’?
By: Urooba Jamal
July 16, 2019
The dilemma for a health organization is hard to fathom.
In 2018, two young women died at the hands of knitting needles and other everyday objects in Kenya, where seven women die each day in an attempt to induce an abortion on their own, bereft of safer options.
Even two years earlier, their deaths might have been prevented. But a local organization that would have previously referred them to abortion provision services was forced to choose between giving sexual and reproductive healthcare advice or signing a “global gag rule” and stopping that program, in order to continue to provide HIV services to its 10,000 clients.
Trump Administration Expands Assault on Global Abortion Access
April 18, 2019
Nina Besser Doorley
In March, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced two significant escalations in the Trump administration’s attacks on sexual and reproductive rights globally: a new expansion to the already-devastating Global Gag Rule and the unprecedented use of the Siljander Amendment to attack funding for a multilateral organization, the Organization of American States.
While the latest expansion to the Global Gag Rule has been well publicized, the use of the Siljander Amendment—an obscure legislative provision that prohibits the use of US funds for abortion-related lobbying—to cut more than $200,000 in US funding to the Organization of American States (OAS) has received less attention. Nonetheless, the use of this provision sets a dangerous precedent by attempting to force global human rights bodies to bow to US political pressure.
International Law Demands the U.S. Do Better on Abortion Policy
February 11, 2019
by Danielle Hites
Within days of assuming office in 2017, President Trump re-instated and expanded the Global Gag Rule, which restricts funding for international organizations that provide or “promote” abortions. Two years later, feminist lawmakers serving in the now Democratic-led House kicked off their own terms by attempting to roll it back.
Pending legislation to establish a budget and keep the government open beyond the three week negotiation period includes a provision that would protect NGOs from being categorically defunded, effectively rescinding the Global Gag Rule. The House spending bill would render health and medical services of such organizations, including counseling and referral services, as insufficient for the sole basis for ineligibility for U.S. funding, and allow NGOs to use non-U.S. funding with fewer regulations.
Exporting Censorship: How U.S. Restrictions on Abortion Speech and Funding Violate International Law, Part 1
May 7, 2018
Akila Radhakrishnan & Kristin Smith
Part 1: The Helms Amendment and Freedom of Speech
This is the first of a two-part post exploring how U.S. restrictions on abortion-related speech, activities, and funding violate U.S. human rights obligations under the ICCPR. Although much attention is rightfully paid to the devastating impact of the reimposed Global Gag Rule, the Helms and Siljander Amendments (which have been permanently in place since the 1970s) often command less consideration. These restrictions are discussed separately here in order to illustrate their unique effects on freedoms of speech and association. However, Helms, Siljander and the Global Gag Rule all fall short of the ICCPR’s requirements and therefore violate freedoms of speech and association in complex ways, as examined in more detail in the Global Justice Center’s recent brief. This post explores how the Helms and Siljander Amendments fail to meet the ICCPR’s standards for lawful restrictions on the freedom of speech. Part Two will focus on the Global Gag Rule and its violation of the freedom of association.