Trump Administration Erases Women in State Department Human Rights Report Once Again
Today, for the second year in a row, the Trump Administration released its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices without information on the full range of abuses and violations of reproductive rights experienced by women, girls and others around the world. The reports focus solely on coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization. These violations represent only a narrow slice of the coercive and harmful policies and other systemic challenges that women and girls face when trying to exercise their reproductive rights, including a lack of access to contraceptives and other sexual and reproductive health services.
By doubling down on its decision to strike this section and sideline reproductive rights, the administration has shown yet again its disregard for the bodily autonomy and human dignity of women, girls and vulnerable communities around the world. These reports, which serve as a vital resource and accountability tool for not only officials and advocates in the US, but around the world, now fail to provide a complete picture of the reality of women’s and girls’ lives.
“As much as the administration wishes it were so, turning a blind eye to infringements on reproductive rights does not make them any less violations of human rights,” said Suzanne Ehlers, President and CEO of PAI. “Access to comprehensive reproductive rights has profound implications for whether a woman or girl can advance all other aspects of her life—from the pursuit of education, to participation in the paid workforce, to the timing and spacing of her children.
What Secretary Pompeo, Ambassador Kozak and the authors of this report fail to acknowledge is that dodging responsibility by claiming that reproductive rights are not defined and suggesting that advocates have begun ascribing ‘their own meaning to the term’ is an abdication of leadership and a weakening of the report’s utility. The sanctioned disregard for issues like maternal mortality and availability of contraception is a stain on the human rights record of the United States of America.”
The decision last year to strike the vast majority of information regarding reproductive rights has been repeatedly condemned by both civil society and members of Congress. Just last week, Rep. Clark and Sen. Menendez introduced bicameral legislation, the Reproductive Rights are Human Rights Act that would require the U.S. to report on the full range of reproductive rights in the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The legislation has been cosponsored by 126 members of the house and 30 Senators. It was endorsed by more than 90 organizations including PAI.
PAI champions policies that put women in charge of their reproductive health. We work with policymakers in Washington and our network of partners in developing countries to remove roadblocks between women and the services and supplies they need. For over 50 years, we’ve helped women succeed by upholding their basic rights. To learn more, visit pai.org.