Global women’s rights advocates raised alarm Monday after a leaked letter showed the Trump administration is pressuring U.N. member nations to join an international anti-abortion coalition.
The letter, first reported by the Guardian and set to be presented Monday during a U.N. General Assembly meeting on universal health coverage, urges nations to oppose the creation of “a new international right to abortion.”
“As a key priority in global health promotion, we respectfully request that your government join the United States in ensuring that every sovereign state has the ability to determine the best way to protect the unborn and defend the family as the foundational unity of society vital to children thriving and leading healthy lives,” states the letter, which was reportedly signed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
Shannon Kowalski, director of advocacy and policy at the International Women’s Health Coalition, was quick to condemn the Trump administration’s reported effort as an alarming attack on women’s right to abortion as well as other reproductive care.
“This letter just shows how they are trying to erode international consensus and roll back the clock for women and girls,” Kowalski told The Guardian. “It’s not just abortion that they care about, they care about women’s ability to exercise autonomy over their bodies and about denying them critical access to the services they need.”
As The Guardian reported, this is hardly the first time the Trump administration has worked to undermine international support for women’s rights at the U.N.
“Intense lobbying by U.S. officials in April resulted in the removal of references to sexual and reproductive health from a U.N. Security Council resolution on combating rape in conflict,” The Guardian noted. “The U.S. previously attempted to water down language and remove the word ‘gender’ from U.N. documents.”