UN Human Rights Council will review Trump’s record
NEW YORK, October 30 (C-Fam) — The Human Rights Council will review the record of the Trump administration next month. Foreign powers are expected to criticize the administration, including U.S. pro-life laws and policies.
It may come as a surprise or even seem contradictory. After all, the Trump administration gave up the U.S. seat on the Geneva-based council two years ago. But the U.S. did not withdraw from the council entirely. The result is that the administration will submit the U.S. government to the scrutiny of the Human Rights Council on November 9.
The U.S. government has continued to engage a human rights process called the Universal Periodic Review whereby other governments rather than human rights “experts” review other member states.
As in past reviews of the U.S. human rights record, foreign powers are expected to single out U.S. pro-life laws and policies, even though the U.S. has among the most radically permissive abortion laws in the world. The UN human rights office released a report ahead of the review which signals their intentions.
The report summarizes complaints about “ever-increasing barriers” to abortion in U.S. states from UN human rights experts. It calls on the federal government to guarantee abortion-on demand in the first trimester, which is already a part of the Roe v. Wade decision. But it also calls for banning conscientious objection by healthcare personnel, providers and insurers for abortion, as well as transgender hormone therapy and sex change operations. And it criticizes the Trump executive order that granted an exemption from the federal mandate to fund abortion drugs and contraception in the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
This wouldn’t be the first time U.S. pro-life laws are criticized by the UN Human Rights Council.
During the last review in 2015, four countries criticized the Helms Amendment, a federal law that forbids the use of U.S. funds to perform abortion overseas or to coerce doctors overseas to perform abortion.
Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom asked the U.S. government to pay for “safe abortion” in cases of rape, incest, and when the life of a mother is in danger. The countries suggested the Obama administration do this without going to Congress to change or clarify the Helms amendment. They told the Obama administration to simply give a new interpretation to the Helms amendment, to allow for U.S. funds to pay for abortion in those cases.
The Trump administration is expected to reject these and similar recommendations. The administration co-sponsored the pro-life Geneva Consensus Declaration last week. The international declaration on women’s health and protection of the family categorically states that abortion is not an international right and that there is no international obligation to fund abortion.
Since its withdrawal from the Council, the U.S. government no longer has the ability to influence decisions and resolutions of the council. But it continues to criticize other countries during the Universal Periodic Review. It also submits its own report to the council.
In the Universal Periodic Review each country of the UN General Assembly submits its human rights record to the wider UN membership at the Human Rights Council. The rotation of all 193 UN member states lasts roughly five years. This will be the third time the U.S. reports to the Human Rights Council.
Published with permission from C-Fam.