The challenges of a pro-life administration at the United Nations

Trump, United Nations

(New York – C-Fam) Over the past four years the Trump administration has fought abortion at the UN like no previous Republican administration. But the administration’s success has been mostly in holding back abortion gains in UN policy, not in changing already existing pro-abortion UN policy. There are several reasons for changes coming so slowly or not at all.

First, the chief promoter of abortion at the UN is the European Union which is very rich, powerful, and influential. It is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to UN social policy. The ambiguous policy category of “sexual and reproductive health” continues to be entrenched in UN policy because of the support of over 100 member states aligned with the European Union. A mere 32 side with the U.S. The European Union jointly contributes roughly 30% of the UN budget, even more than the United States. While the U.S. may be the single largest contributor of bilateral development and humanitarian aid, collectively speaking the European Union exceeds this.

Second, there is the problem of internal resistance. The Deep State is real. What we have seen in recent years is just how powerful the entrenched bureaucracy can be. U.S. career diplomats tend to be pro-abortion, and from the moment the Trump administration tried to advance the pro-life cause internationally, a cadre of U.S. officials and diplomats began to sabotage these efforts. Moreover, they began to leak stories, both true and false, to the press to discredit the Trump administration. U.S. diplomats have slow-rolled Trump policies. They have been less than forthcoming in providing complete and accurate information to political appointees in real time. Career diplomats have consistently sabotaged the pro-life cause.

READ: U.S. blocks United Nations agreement over pro-life concerns, but UN member states ignore

Third, political appointees are counted on to carry out the president’s policies, but nominations have come slowly. What’s more, even good political appointees do not have the experience of their EU counterparts. Without this knowledge and experience, political appointees are at the mercy of the career diplomats that advise them. There is the additional problem of location. The Trump administration never had a pro-life quarterback at the U.S. Mission in New York. The few excellent U.S. advisors have been located in Washington D.C. and therefore far from the action.

Then there is the issue of commitment. The EU cares deeply about spreading the gospel of abortion and they commit time and treasure to it. It comes down to political will and the U.S., even under Trump, has not shown a similar steel will as the Europeans. Unless the pro-life cause is a U.S. foreign policy priority on par with the issue of Israel and free speech there cannot be results for the pro-life cause. The Trump administration has been reluctant to vote on UN resolutions solely because of pro-life concerns, even as it voted against entire resolutions because of ambiguous language on Israel, freedom of speech, the right to food, the right to water, and the right to development, and other concerns that pale in magnitude. The EU recognizes this and will remain undeterred in their promotion of problematic language until the U.S. demonstrates the same resolve on resolutions threatening unborn life.

Until the U.S. government decides to make promoting life a foreign policy priority, with all that entails in terms of budgeting, foreign aid, and diplomatic muscle, the international pro-life cause will continue to stall.

Editor’s Note: Stefano Gennarini, J.D. and Lisa Correnti write for C-Fam. This article first appeared at C-Fam (Center for Family & Human Rights), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute ( This article appears with permission.

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