US Pushes Back on UN Criticism of State Pro-Life Laws
Friday, September 4, 2020

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Andrew Bremberg responded to what he called a “bizarre and inexplicable letter” sent to the US from a group of UN special procedures mandate holders “alleging U.S. impingement to an assumed ‘right to abortion’.” The letter from the Working Group on Discrimination Against Women and Girls, the Special Rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health; and the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women charged that the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Iowa, Ohio, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee violated international law in their response to COVID-19 by not viewing abortion as “essential” health care.

They stated that “the above-mentioned states, with a long history of restrictive practices against abortion, seem to have been manipulating the crisis to severely restrict women’s reproductive rights.” The group urged the US to ensure “uninterrupted and timely access to the full range of abortion procedures, information and related services” not only during the pandemic but afterwards as well.

In his strong response, Ambassador Bremberg reminded them that there is no “right to abortion”:

“As United Nations human rights mandate holders, you are undoubtedly aware that international human rights law does not recognize any “right to abortion.” The United States is disappointed by and categorically rejects this transparent attempt to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to assert the existence of such a right. This is a perversion of the human rights system and the founding principles of the United Nations.”

For further clarification he referenced a letter from the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to USAID regarding the UN’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) and promotion of abortion during the COVID-19 pandemic in which the Secretary-General stated that “health care is provided with full respect to national laws. It does not promote, much less impose, abortion on anyone, nor is it intended to do so.”

Ambassador Bremberg rightly called out the mandate holders for wasting time and resources “on such spurious allegations rather than focusing your energies on areas where your attention is most appropriate and warranted. For instance, the Chinese Communist Party is currently directing the use of forced abortion, forced sterilization and forced birth control in Xinjiang.”

He went on to advise them that one of the reasons that the United States and others “increasingly see the UN’s human rights system as utterly broken is the tendency of its self-appointed guardians to label certain policy preferences as ‘rights’ — a practice that devalues the entire human rights enterprise and leads to absurd outcomes such as the above-referenced letter. At the same time, we see violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a massive scale that generate little or no comment by these same guardians.”

PNCI notes that the ICPD Programme of Action states in regards to laws on abortion: Any measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level according to the national legislative process.

These mandate holders need to be reminded that US state legislators are acting according to the UN Member State agreement at the ICPD meeting in Cairo which stated that they, legislators, should make the laws and regulations on abortion for the people they represent, not unelected UN bureaucrats.