UN urged to intervene over destruction of US abortion rights

The Guardian – By Poppy Noor – Thu 2 Mar 2023

Top human rights organizations are calling on the United Nations to intervene over the destruction of abortion rights in the US.

In a letter shared in advance with the Guardian and sent Thursday by nearly 200 organizations and experts, the authors detail how, since the overturning of the federal constitutional right to abortion in June 2022, some 22 million women and girls of reproductive age live in states where abortion access is now either banned or inaccessible.

Among the signatories are the Global Justice Center, Pregnancy Justice, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. They are joined by a broader coalition of groups and individual advocates for human rights and racial and economic justice.

Abortion restrictions, the signatories write, deny “women’s decisional and bodily autonomy in a way that rejects the agency, dignity and equality of people who can become pregnant.”

The groups in the letter claim that overturning the constitutional right to abortion contravenes the US’s international obligations as a UN member organization. Member states are obliged to protect and uphold the rights to life, health, privacy, liberty and security, along with freedoms from torture and inhumane, cruel or degrading treatment.

The US’s role as a leader on the world stage does not exempt the country from these obligations – in fact, it should require them to do more, said a representative from the Global Justice Center, which is one of the signatories.

“The US must be castigated on the world stage for its treatment of women, girls, and others who can become pregnant – the scale and intensity of human rights violations that the US is inflicting on its population are near unfathomable at this point,” said Christine Ryan, legal director of the Global Justice Center, in a phone interview.

“It has become almost tragically ironic that the US government uses the language of human rights to condemn state abuses against citizens of other countries, be that in Iran, or Belarus. These norms must be deployed against the state here at home as well. And for too long, the US has been able to avoid that type of international scrutiny,” she said.

The authors say the curtailment of abortion rights in the US is of a piece with the country’s history devaluing the lives of Black women, who are hit worst by abortion restrictions.

“The Dobbs ruling pushed the US even further out of line with its human rights obligations, including its obligation to ensure access to abortion and to eliminate structural racism and discrimination,” said Annerieke Smaak Daniel, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Abortion restrictions compound economic, social, and geographic barriers to healthcare, including contraception, disproportionately impacting Black women’s ability to access the care we need.”

The letter also includes damning examples since Roe was overturned, including the case of one patient in Wisconsin who was left to bleed at home for 10 days following a miscarriage because hospital staff feared violating the state’s abortion ban if they intervened to give care. It also details cases of several patients who had to travel out of state for an abortion after being refused care for an ectopic pregnancy, and others who were denied chemotherapy care due to pregnancy.

Read entire article here

Posted by Teri Perticone


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