(C-FAM — WASHINGTON, D.C.) Georgetown University recently released its “U.S. Women, Peace and Security Index” designating the best and worst states to be a woman. One of the indicators they measured was what percentage of women aged 15-44 lived in a county that had an abortion clinic.
Georgetown’s newly-released national index ranks the fifty U.S. states and includes an indicator called “reproductive healthcare access.” It is defined solely in terms of women living in a county with an abortion clinic. The rationale provided: “Proximity to clinics providing abortion services enables women to exercise their right to choose.”
A separate indicator measuring legal protections for women includes seven sub-categories, one of which is whether the state allows abortion without state-mandated in-person counseling.
The Georgetown institute considers itself to be “a continuation of the mandate” of resolution UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security,” adopted in the year 2000. This landmark document acknowledged the impact of armed conflict on women and girls around the world, as well as supporting the unique contributions women could make to the process of preventing conflict, negotiating peace, and rebuilding after wars. It makes no mention of abortion or “reproductive health.”
The national index was created by Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS), which was launched in 2011 by former Secretary of State and past presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Georgetown University is a prestigious Jesuit institution based in Washington, D.C. But the focus of Georgetown’s index on abortion is new.
GIWPS had previously created an international WPS index in collaboration with the Peace Research Institute of Oslo. It ranked countries on women’s wellbeing across eleven indicators, none of which include abortion or the more euphemistic “reproductive health.”
The basis for emphasizing abortion as an essential part of women’s wellbeing in the Women, Peace, and Security policy space is unclear.
The report introducing the new index only cites a survey commissioned by Georgetown. The survey found that a majority of adults—especially Democratic men at 94 percent—thought abortion access was important to women’s rights. But there is scant normative support for including abortion in the index otherwise.
Abortion activists have been frustrated by their lack of a clear foothold in UN Security Council resolutions. They have had better success with the bureaucratic elements of the UN system, including multiple reports from the UN Secretary-General and a 2015 global study UN Women, which assert on dubious grounds that abortion must be provided in conflict settings as a humanitarian right. While they welcomed the inclusion of “sexual and reproductive health” in UN Security Council resolutions when President Obama was in the White House, under President Trump, such references have been repeatedly blocked.
The Women, Peace, and Security agenda has been a high priority of the Trump Administration. President Trump signed the bipartisan WPS Act in 2017, which is the first legislation of its kind in the world. The legislation tasked the sitting administration with drafting a multi-agency strategy. Despite efforts by abortion advocates both inside and outside the Trump administration the US strategy remains void of any abortion-promoting language.
Editor’s Note: Rebecca Oas, Ph.D. writes for C-Fam. This article first appeared in the Friday Fax, an internet report published weekly by C-Fam (Center for Family & Human Rights), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute (https://c-fam.org/). This article appears with permission.
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