The U.S. Rejected a UN Resolution on Violence Against Women—Because Abortion

A representative from the U.S. announced to the UN that “we do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our reproductive health assistance.”

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Late last month, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution that denounced the abuse and discrimination of women, expressing “outrage at the persistence and pervasiveness of all forms of violence against women and girls worldwide” and calling on countries worldwide to take immediate steps to prevent gender-based violence and discrimination.

The council adopted this resolution without a vote, but several countries—Bangladesh, China, Egypt, and the United States—disagreed with parts or all of the text. U.S. First Secretary to the U.N. in Geneva Jason Mack stated that the U.S. “must dissociate from the consensus” because the resolution includes support for abortion care for women and girls, especially for those in war and post-conflict situations who are at higher risk of rape.

Mack’s pronouncement highlights the current administration’s war on women’s rights around the world. One of the first action President Trump took once in office was reinstating and expanding the Global Gag Rule, cutting off funding for any family planning or sexual health clinics around the world who so much as mention abortion to their patients. Soon after, the Trump administration announced that the U.S. would no longer contribute to the UN Population Fund. Domestically, the Trump administration is attempting to push through a so-called “health care” bill that erases many of the sexual and reproductive health gains for women made by the Affordable Care Act, slashes funding for Medicaid and ends federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Canada, the country responsible for tabling this UN resolution, is one of the few countries in the world with no criminal law restricting access to abortion. Tunisia, as the first Muslim country that legalized abortion in 1965, is also one of the few countries in the world, and two in the Arab region, that permits abortions “without restriction as to reason.” Though the European Union has no common abortion policy, all of its 27 member nations, except Malta, allow abortions in some circumstances.

Countries around the world have begun to increasingly see abortion as a fundamental human right. All the while, the U.S. government is enacting regressive reproductive health policies that endanger the lives of women across the globe.

With Mack’s announcement that the current administration does not recognize abortion as a fundamental component of family planning, it falls on activists and citizens alike to speak out against this harmful and false rhetoric. Feminists worldwide and especially in the U.S. certainly “recognize abortion as a method of family planning” and “support abortion in our reproductive health assistance”—no matter what Mack and Trump have to say about it.

Micaela Brinsley is an Editorial Intern at Ms. and a rising sophomore at Smith College. Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, she is a feminist theatre artist, activist and writer with a background in labor and tenants’ rights. Passionate about social justice, she is an avid conversationalist committed to making the world a more just and inclusive place. You can contact her at mbrinsley [at] msmagazine.com.

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About

Micaela Brinsley recently graduated from the Performance Studies department at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, she is a feminist theatre artist, activist and writer with a background in performance art and labor rights. Passionate about social justice, she is an avid conversationalist committed to making the world a more just place. She has been writing for Ms. since the summer of 2017. You can contact her at mbrinsley [at] msmagazine.com.