Washington, D.C. — On Friday, April 20, the State Department released its annual human rights report for 2017, which strikingly erases mentions of human rights abuses related to reproductive health. In each country’s report, the section on women has replaced the section on “reproductive rights” with “coercion in population control,” and language on gender-based violence was significantly scaled back. Today’s release follows reports that the Trump-Pence administration removed references to contraception, abortion, and comprehensive sex education from a document on global gender equality, and called the U.S. a "pro-life nation" at a U.N. session.
The shift to focusing solely on “coercion in population control” belies the other ways that states and societies control women’s bodies, including prevalent gender-based violence and extreme abortion criminalization laws that coerce women into pregnancy. The State Department report includes no acknowledgement that there is a fundamental right for all individuals to freely decide whether and when to have children and to manage their reproductive health – not just free from coercion, but also free from violence and discrimination.
Statement from Dana Singiser, Vice President for Public Policy and Government Relations, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
By erasing reproductive rights from the the State Department’s human rights report, the United States is demoting women’s rights to something less than human rights. That is dangerous and unacceptable. Human rights are indivisible, and the State Department’s action flies in the face of a consistent trajectory towards expanding women’s rights globally. The Trump-Pence administration has take a giant step backwards for women and demonstrated a careless disregard for the rights and autonomy of women in this country and around the world.
The censorship of reproductive rights underscores why the Senate should reject Mike Pompeo for secretary of state, who has a long record of disregarding a range of human rights, including reproductive rights. This censored report undermines U.S. leadership on the global stage, and Pompeo’s confirmation would further erode any credibility on human rights.
Since day one, the Trump-Pence administration has launched relentless attacks on reproductive health and human rights around the world, including the unprecedented expansion of the global gag rule that threatens to exclude some of the world’s most effective health organizations and crucial advocates for marginalized people’s rights in 60 low-and middle-income countries from critical funding.
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 Federation of America has supported access to sexual and reproductive health care and advocated for reproductive rights around the world through our international arm, Planned Parenthood Global. In partnership with more than 100 organizations across 12 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 reached over a million people with sexual and reproductive health information and services provided by our partners. 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.