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HHS Secretary tells foreign health leaders U.S. will resist attempts by some U.N. agencies and countries to create unfettered access to abortion

by | Jan 17, 2020

By Dave Andrusko

Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar

On Thursday the Trump administration again affirmed that it resists all efforts to create an “international right to abortion” and outside interference from U.N. agencies or other countries.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar hosted a private roundtable at the Blair House of foreign health leaders from more than 30 nations.

The headline to the Secretary’s remarks, posted on the HHS webpage, made the President’s and his administration’s policy crystal-clear: “Secretary Azar Hosts Foreign Officials to Reaffirm Trump Administration’s Support for Protecting Life in Global Health Policy.”

According to a transcript, Secretary Azar said flatly,

I stated this fact at the United Nations this past September, and I’ll repeat it here: there is no international human right to abortion. On the other hand, there is an international human right to life.

President Trump has been clear, at the U.N. and on the world stage: Health care exists to improve health and preserve human life—the universal goal we all share.

If the other side’s goal of making abortion an international human right becomes a reality, it will mean all countries with laws protecting the unborn will be in violation of international human rights laws, with all the consequences that could carry.

Azar told the assembly that

As a group, we have made much progress already. So, please accept the sincere thanks of the Trump Administration for joining together with us, and for fighting for positive health policies that will enable women and families to live healthy, fulfilling lives. Thank you for taking a courageous stand with us for the unborn. Thank you for standing up for the idea that every life has value. And thank you for making clear that national sovereignty is not a vague or old fashioned concept, but the most important duty for each of us as leaders in our respective governments.

In that vein Azar pressed hard against external efforts to impose change stating uncategorically, “There is no role in this debate for interference from U.N. agencies or other countries.”

Every country has the right, and the duty to its own citizens, to decide for themselves how laws and policies can best strengthen the family, ensure optimal health for women and adolescents throughout their lifespan, and protect the unborn.

These issues are a topic of active debate here in the United States, in our domestic politics, including with regard to our abortion laws, which are some of the world’s most liberal. The Trump Administration has worked extremely hard to provide better protections for the unborn in the United States, and we do so working through our own legislative and legal systems.

Azar also spoke of what he called “the constant drumbeat” in the United Nations and the WHO

to normalize the terms “sexual and reproductive health” and “reproductive rights.” What reproductive rights are they talking about? In this context, it is increasingly becoming clear that some U.N. agencies and countries want this to mean unfettered access to abortion, and we cannot let this threat go unanswered.

Instead, Azar suggested,

Together, our nations can join together to support more sensible language in U.N. and WHO resolutions, which puts the focus back on critical women’s health needs. Further, we can fight to insert language making it clear to U.N. agencies and other countries that national context and local laws take precedence on these matters, providing protections for our countries even when we don’t prevail on definitional issues.

Categories: Abortion