Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton backed legislation Friday that would require the State Department to bring back a “Reproductive Rights” section in their annual Human Rights report. Clinton claimed the term’s omission was “dangerous” and also advocated for a global right to access abortion.
Important legislation introduced yesterday: The Reproductive Rights Are Human Rights Act would correct the Trump administration's dangerous decision to remove reporting on reproductive rights from the State Department's annual reports on human rights practices around the world.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 8, 2019
“By requiring annual reporting on women's access to basic health care like contraception, safe abortion, and maternal health care around the world,” she wrote. “Congress can make sure the rights of women and girls will no longer be up for grabs in each election.”
By requiring annual reporting on women's access to basic health care like contraception, safe abortion, and maternal health care around the world, Congress can make sure the rights of women and girls will no longer be up for grabs in each election.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 8, 2019
“I introduced reproductive rights sections to the reports while I was secretary of state because access to reproductive health care is a protected human right affecting women's right to life, equality, and freedom from inhumane treatment,” she emphasized.
The State Department explained why they chose to omit the term last spring. Michael Kozak, ambassador for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, told reporters that the section on reproductive rights was omitted because abortion is not a human right.
“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 explained. "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."
He explained at the time that while the stated intent of the Obama administration when the term was introduced did not include abortion, “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.”
Based on Clinton’s recent tweet, she clearly considers “safe abortion” to be a part of “women’s access to basic health care.”
"It’s not a diminishment of women’s rights or the desire to get away from it," Kozak emphasized of the decision to remove the term. "It’s a desire to get away from using a term that has several different meanings that are not all the ones we intend.”
As the State Department points out, the push for access to abortion and contraception in certain countries is very controversial.
Obianuju Ekeocha, a Nigerian-born biomedical scientist and president of Culture of Life Africa, testified at a conference on the status of women at the United Nations in 2016 that “most of the African native languages, don’t even have a way of phrasing having an abortion that means anything good,” emphasizing “neo-colonialism was occurring,” when “people from the Western World try to give us this kind of language that we could never translate.”
“Most of the African communities actually believe by their traditions and their cultural standards that abortion is a direct attack on human life,” Ekeocha emphasized.