Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination marks a possible turning point in the decades-long conservative crusade to withdraw abortion rights in the United States. But Republican social conservatives have steadily denied abortion rights on the global stage for decades, piling up major foreign policy agencies with anti-abortion advocates, and scaling back US aid when recipients offer abortion counseling or services.
In the past four years, the Trump administration has passed this fight on to international organizations on an unprecedented scale, seeking beyond previous Republican administrations to stamp out references to sexual and reproductive health, family planning, and other expressions that they claim to be abortion tolerate – as well as new norms of gender identity and sexual orientation.
The government's offensives now play out in a battle at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, in which Trump administration officials have worked to reformulate parts of a strategy document to combat gender-based violence and delete expressions such as "sexual orientation." . Gender Identities ”and“ Health Services ”, which are called red lines for administration.
An internal draft of the document with amendments proposed by the US side shows the extent to which the Trump administration is trying to export its socially conservative positions to international organizations. According to those familiar with the matter, the push is likely to take the United States to another level Collision course The European countries are committed to international efforts to combat gender-based violence.
The fight at the OECD is not the only one. The United States is currently trying to co-sign a statement for foreign ministers to read on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly in Geneva in November claiming that "there is no international right to abortion" and that "in no case should abortion be promoted as a family planning method". The draft declaration also excludes any reference to rights for transgender people. It is supported by Brazil, Hungary, Egypt, Indonesia and Uganda.
Efforts to restrict abortion services, some of which are legally protected in the United States, go back to President Ronald Reagan's Mexico City policy, often referred to as "global gag rule” from critics that successive Republican governments have implemented. The rule prohibits US foreign aid from being used to fund foreign health groups or non-governmental organizations that provide abortion counseling or referrals. Current studies demonstrate that the rule has led to an increase in unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and restricted access to sexual health services in developing countries.
A spokesman for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reiterated the Trump administration's commitment to advancing anti-abortion policies in international organizations, saying the United States remains “committed to improving the health of everyone throughout Life span, especially for women and children. ”
"The Trump administration defends the life and dignity of people around the world, including international organizations, without apology," the spokesman said.
Republican presidents, including George W. Bush, have long had Christian conservatives a visible role in shaping US policy on abortion at the United Nations. But President Donald Trump, encouraged by his important Evangelical Christian support base, has taken it further, some experts say, by transferring conservative Christian lawyers and activists to critical federal jobs, particularly at the State Department and USAID.
Pam Pryor, the deputy state secretary for international organizational affairs, was Trump's main liaison with the evangelical community during his 2016 presidential election. The government has hired a number of Christian attorneys for critical positions in USAID, including Bethany Kozma, USAID's deputy chief of staff, who advocates closing gender-neutral bathrooms in Virginia public schools and claims it will allow predators to attack girls.
Anti-abortion Conservatives had "foreign policy freedoms, particularly under (Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo," said Jennifer Vanyur, assistant director of global advocacy at Planned Parenthood. "There is no diplomatic veil," she added, recalling the US threat to veto a German Security Council resolution Targeting Rape as a weapon of war if Berlin has not deleted the expression "sexual and reproductive health". The Germans gave in.
"They are not afraid of isolation and tank negotiations," said Vanyur.
The back-and-forth over the OECD strategy document on gender-based violence underscores the international element of the American culture wars. The US negotiators challenged the document's claim that "gender-based violence is based, among other things, on societal norms" and "internalized ideas of masculinity and femininity". In response, Sarah Gesiriech, a Trump children's advisor at USAID, deleted the sentence with the comment: "They consider this bad when it doesn't always do it. That is, young girls who want to be mothers, men who Want to be utilities, etc. Girls who want to be ballerinas and boys who are construction workers. It's not all negative. "
US officials have also repeatedly removed sentences such as "sexual orientation" and "toxic masculinity" from the document, and added a comment at one point alongside the deletion: "This is a redline for USAID."
The gender campaign fits perfectly with the fight against abortion. In another section, Meghan Hanson, a Trump-appointed person at USAID, pushed against the phrase "Address all forms of GBV against all women and girls" – GBV is an acronym for gender-based violence. The official deleted the words "all forms of" with the comment: "This is very problematic as the (World Health Organization) has indicated that not providing abortions is a form of GBV." She connected with one WHO document this means that "denial of abortion and forced continuation of pregnancy" have been identified as forms of gender-based violence.
Some U.S. officials familiar with internal deliberations have raised concerns and believe that the people Trump appointed misrepresent the important language in the document. But even harsh critics who have viewed the document say the administration made some helpful suggestions and criticisms. An example to which they refer: USAID officials found that the document "almost doesn't mention GBV in the military" and encouraged it to do so.
However, some experts fear that the Trump administration's struggles with the United States and other international organizations will frustrate future efforts to combat gender-based violence.
"The deletion of the terms" sexual orientation "," gender identity "and" reproductive health services "is an extreme US move to prevent progress in the fight against gender-based violence and will make other multilateral areas reluctant to step in Issues, ”said Beirne Roose-Snyder, director of public order at the Center for Health and Gender Equity, an advocacy group.
The USAID spokesman declined to comment specifically on the draft OECD document, but said the US government “is reviewing the language multilaterally Documents extremely carefully, as a number of terms can be interpreted and have been misused to promote agendas that are against the administratoristration policy. "
"Lawyers often use multilateral documents to pressure governments to change their health and social law. This is a violation of the autonomy of any society to determine its own national policies," the spokesman said.
The spokesman also noted that the United States remains the world's largest bilateral donor to global health programs. "The US government agrees with the ultimate goal of combating violence against women if this is clearly defined, ”said the spokesman.
But it is precisely this status as the largest health donor in the world that makes US politics so important, he said Nina Besser Doorley, Assistant Attorney and Policy Director for the International Women's Health Coalition. In May 2017, the Trump administration expanded what is known as the global gag rule, banning foreign NGOs from receiving US money unless they certify that they are not receiving advice or services related to abortion.
"The US is the largest bilateral global health promoter, and what the US is doing has a huge impact on the soil," she said. "What we've seen in the past three years is that changing US policy doesn't change the need for these services, the need for abortion or access to contraception. All it does is make that stuff harder and more riskier to make accessible. "