House and Senate Democrats joined with abortion groups like Planned Parenthood on Capitol Hill Thursday to announce their introduction of the “Reproductive Rights Are Human Rights Act” which would require the State Department to bring back a “Reproductive Rights” section in their annual Human Rights report.
The bill was introduced in both the House and Senate Thursday and Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) made some claims about their party’s stance on life while discussing the legislation at a press conference.
In response to a question from a reporter asking if the Democratic Party could be described as "the party of death," Menendez described the Democratic Party as “the party of life.”
“I think that we are the party of life,” he said, “we are the party that wants to make sure that when a child is born it has the ability to fulfill its God-given potential to get the healthcare it needs, to get the education it needs, to help mothers during maternal care to make sure that they can have a healthy child and survive the birth of that child.”
“This is the party that continuously supports making sure that women have the rights to make decisions,” he continued, “that when they make a decision to have a child that they have all the help necessary to have a healthy child, and that that healthy child can fulfill their God-given potential. I wish our colleagues would join us in all elements of that.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal echoed Menendez’s words arguing that the bill “really is about information. It’s about knowing what’s happening in the world, opening our eyes and hearing and seeing what’s happening to women and children around the world and so it’s really about life.”
“It’s about what quality of life women and children, young girls have all around the globe,” he concluded, “to refuse to support it, I think, is shameful.”
Menendez and Blumenthal’s claims about their party and life are interesting in light of their recent vote against the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” which would have put in place legal protections for infants born alive after an attempted abortion. The only Democrats who voted for the bill were Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania.
Democrats have faced increased scrutiny over their support for late-term abortion after a measure that would permit abortions at “any time” to protect “a patient’s life or health” was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) made some remarks that appeared to be defending leaving an infant born alive after an attempted abortion to die when he was asked about the debate over Virginia House of Delegates member Kathy Tran’s (D-Fairfax) late-term abortion bill. Tran initially said that her bill allowed abortion even after the woman goes into labor.
As to the inclusion of “reproductive rights” in the State Department’s Human Rights report, Michael Kozak, ambassador for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, explained the rationale for the omission to reporters last spring.
He argued that since the Obama administration introduced the term in the report just six years ago, the term has been taken by some to mean abortion. He said that this was not the original intent of the Obama administration in adding the term and that abortion has never been recognized as a human right under international law.
“Under the previous administration and this one and the one before that, we have never taken the position that abortion was a right under – a human right under international law," Kozak said. "This is supposed to be internationally recognized human rights, and it’s an issue on which – some countries prohibit abortion, some countries, like our own, pretty much no restriction on it, and we don’t say one of those is right and one of those is wrong. We don’t report on it because it’s not a human right."
Kozak said the Obama administration used the term to look at the availability of contraception and whether governments tried to coerce people in making decisions about reproduction.
“Unfortunately, over the last few years, groups on both sides of that issue domestically have started to use the term, and both seem to think it does include abortion and then argue about it,” he said.