The Trump administration recently threatened its veto power if the UN security council did not remove abortion-related language from a resolution aimed at combatting rape in war-torn areas. After fierce negotiations, the security council removed the language and the final resolution passed 13-0.
The resolution was an initiative by the German government to address the problem of rape in war zones. The original proposal contained language referring to “comprehensive health services” for “survivors of sexual violence” – language commonly used to imply abortion.
According to Foreign Policy, the office of the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent an internal State Department cable to the US Embassy in Berlin and the US Mission to the UN, instructing diplomats to threaten a veto if the language was not removed.
This internal cable affirmed the good of the resolution, reading, “We understand and agree that more needs to be done to deter the recurrence of such crimes and assist survivors. The United States plans to be supportive in shaping future action on this important issue.” However, it goes on to say, “We cannot accept unamended explicit, or implicit, references to ‘sexual and reproductive health'” because “we do not support or promote abortion” in global women’s health.
After extensive negotiations last weekend, Germany agreed to remove the language on Tuesday in order to secure the US vote. The vote passed on Tuesday afternoon, with Russia and China abstaining.
While U.S. Ambassador Jonathan Cohen did not comment following the vote, a White House aide told Reuters that the agreed-upon language “ended up in a place that is closer in line with the White House’s priorities.”
Despite the resolution’s passage, many members of the council accused the US of watering down the original resolution. “We are dismayed by the fact that one state has demanded the removal of the reference to sexual and reproductive health … going against 25 years of gains for women’s rights in situations of armed conflict,” said Francois Delattre, the French permanent representative to the UN.
British diplomat Tariq Ahmad told NPR, “… [W]e regret that the language on services for survivors of sexual violence, recognizing the acute need for those services to include comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care, including safe termination of pregnancies, did not meet with all the council members’ support.”
The Trump administration’s indirect recognition that children conceived in rape are innocent and should not be targeted for abortion is consistent with other administration attempts to reduce taxpayer funding and support of overseas abortions.
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