The United States is calling on fellow United Nations member states to join them in fighting “to protect the unborn.”
In a letter reported by the left-leaning Guardian – which framed the message from the U.S. as an attempt to “rollback women’s rights” – was signed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Health and Human Services Sec. Alex Azar with the intent to deliver it to participants of a “high-level” meeting on universal health coverage Monday.
In the letter, which has been published on the department’s website, Pompeo and Azar urge fellow U.N. members to oppose the international organization’s healthcare policies which the Trump administration says have been falsely “reinterpreted” to promote abortion and “weaken the family.”
“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,” the joint letter reads. “We remain gravely concerned that aggressive efforts to reinterpret international instruments to create a new international right to abortion and to promote international policies that weaken the family have advanced through some United Nations fora.”
“Evidence of this is found in references throughout many multilateral global health policy documents to interpret ‘comprehensive sexuality education’ and ‘sexual and reproductive health’ and ‘sexual and reproductive health and rights’ to diminish the role of parents in the most sensitive and personal family-oriented issues,” the letter continues. “The latter has been asserted to mean promotion of abortion, including pressuring countries to abandon religious principles and cultural norms enshrined in law that protect unborn life.”
The resultant promotion of abortion and pressuring of countries to abandon their cultural values regarding human life, the Trump administration maintains, “undermine[s] our shared commitment to sustainable development and to achieving health for all, leaving no one behind.”
With the 2020 election looming, Trump has been deliberately contrasting his pro-life presidency with the Democrats’ increasingly radical positions on abortion, particularly late-term abortion. In his massive rally kicking off his campaign in Orlando in June, Trump made sure to bring up the issue. “Virtually every top Democrat also now supports taxpayer-funded abortion right up to the moment of birth – ripping babies straight from the mothers’ womb,” said Trump in comments that quickly made headlines. “Leading Democrats have even opposed measures to prevent the execution of children after birth. You saw that in Virginia. Republicans believe that every life is a sacred gift from God. That is why I have asked Congress to prohibit extreme late-term abortions.”
Trump’s mention of Virginia was a reference to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s infamous defense of letting a child die after a botched abortion. Trump also drew attention to New York Democrats’ recently passing extreme pro-abortion laws. “There could be no greater contrast to the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child than the chilling displays our nation saw in recent days,” said Trump. “Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments from birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world.”
UPDATE: Secretaries Azar and Pompeo have issued the following joint statement in response to reports on the letter:
“Secretary Azar and Secretary Pompeo jointly signed a letter to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Ministers of Health in seventy-two countries voicing U.S. concern about an aggressive effort in international settings that could decrease life-saving healthcare for millions of women. This troubling effort seeks to reinterpret international UN documents to wrongfully assert that they create a new international ‘right to abortion’ and promote international policies weakening the family, a vital link to improved health outcomes.
“The letter asks countries to partner with the United States to promote women’s health and to collaborate with the United States at the upcoming UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on a joint statement supporting health for all people, born and unborn, and on an outcome document from the High Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage this fall that reflects shared values and to encourage a partnership among other countries both at the UN General Assembly and beyond focused on improved health outcomes at country and community level. Working with other nations on these shared health priorities will increase access to vital healthcare and advance optimal health outcomes for women, children, and adolescents – often the most vulnerable groups.”
This article has been revised for clarity and updated to include the statement from Azar and Pompeo.