WASHINGTON — Today, as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, representatives from United Nations (UN) member states offered recommendations to the U.S. on how to correct recent human rights abuses. Many representatives focused on regressive policies from the Trump administration, and its allies across the U.S. government, that attack sexual and reproductive health and rights. With the election of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, two champions for sexual and reproductive health, this critical work of restoring policies that advance human rights can begin.
Statement from Monica Kerrigan, Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Global:
Today, more than a dozen countries condemned U.S. restrictions on sexual and reproductive health and rights — policies that harm not just people in the U.S., but around the world. This is a moment of international reckoning, and it is clear that the global community supports advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights. The U.S. has imposed the Hyde and Helms Amendments to unjustly restrict access to critical abortion access. And the current administration implemented the global gag rule and Title X gag rule to stop health care providers from having honest and open conversations with their patients. These actions are in direct conflict with our nation’s commitments and obligations to achieve sexual and reproductive health and rights for all. The recommendations echo loud and clear what we know the American public supports — we must expand, not restrict, access to sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion — and advance and uphold the human rights of all people.
The UPR process involves a review of the human rights records of all UN member states every four years, with the aim of improving the human rights situation on the ground. Planned Parenthood Federation of America submitted a report for the UPR on the U.S.’ human rights record, including recommendations to overturn the Title X and global gag rules and to repeal the Hyde and Helms Amendments. During today’s session, the following countries offered recommendations to the U.S. to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health, and address policies that limit access to family planning through the Title X program and restrict funding for sexual and reproductive health and rights, including abortion, through U.S. foreign aid: Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom.
These damaging policies that restrict sexual and reproductive health access have been in place, and been harming people across the globe, for years. But tragically, the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified health care disparities, in turn impacting reproductive rights. In the U.S., one in three women have reported delays in accessing sexual and reproductive health care, with this rate even higher among Black and Hispanic women. Similar disruptions are occurring in other countries and are exacerbated by U.S. policies like the global gag rule.
The impact of these regressive policies are clear. Upon taking office, the Biden administration must end the global and domestic gag rules so that health care providers and patients can speak freely about all reproductive health care options. The administration must also propose a budget that reflects a commitment to sexual and reproductive health — including ending the Hyde and Helms Amendments.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
For more than 45 years, Planned Parenthood Global has supported access to sexual and reproductive health care and advocated for reproductive rights around the world. In partnership with more than 100 organizations across 9 focus countries in Africa and Latin America, we advance the health and rights of young people, women and families, with an emphasis on the most vulnerable and underserved. Last year, our partners provided over 1.8 million people with sexual and reproductive health information and services. Our unique sustainability model sets us apart, as we empower partners to stand on their own. We help grassroots organizations develop solid reproductive health programs, identify other sources of funding, build their communications and advocacy skills, and develop strategic plans. Planned Parenthood Global is the international arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.