A bill was introduced Monday in the US House of Representatives to require that the State Department include “reproductive rights” in its annual human rights report.
The Reproductive Rights are Human Rights Act of 2018 was introduced Dec. 10 by Rep. Katherine Clark, and was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
The Trump administration’s State Department included statistics on “coercion in population control” rather than “reproductive rights” in its 2017 annual human rights report.
The State Department’s decision was applauded by pro-life leaders.
“‘Reproductive rights’ has long been a euphemism for destroying human life in the womb,” said Lila Rose, founder and president of the pro-life group Live Action, when the report was released in April. “A phrase that sounds like empowerment is a really only code for the subjugation of preborn children,” Rose added.
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, told CNA at the time that abortion is an “inappropriate indicator of human rights.”
The Reproductive Rights are Human Rights Act is a direct response to the State Department’s decision.
A statement from Clark’s office said that “removing women’s right from the annual report in 2017 was a dramatic and dangerous shift in U.S. efforts to protect the international rights of women.”
Clark commented that “documenting and reporting human rights violations is a major part of eradicating their existence. This bill would ensure that our State Department maintains its vital role as an international watchdog and protector of women’s rights no matter the ideology of our White House.”
Rep. Nita Lowey, a co-sponsor of the bill, characterized the State Department’s decision as the US “turn[ing] its back on the countless women around the world who are deprived of basic reproductive rights.”
Among the 45 organizations which have endorsed the bill are the Center for Reproductive Rights, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the American Psychological Association, and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
The State Department’s report currently includes a section on “Coercion in Population Control”, under a larger section titled “Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons”. The new section appears under the subsection for “women” and features reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization procedures, and “other coercive population control methods.” There are also links to maternal mortality figures as well as the prevalence of contraceptives in a country.