Further distancing itself from longtime U.S. allies regarding reproductive rights, the Trump administration on Thursday joined 32 countries in signing a declaration claiming that pregnant people have “no international right to abortion.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attended the virtual signing ceremony for the so-called “Geneva Consensus Declaration” after the administration formed an international coalition comprised of countries where abortion care is banned or severely restricted, to counter the United Nations’ support for reproductive rights.
“It carries no legitimacy within the U.N. system―but the sentiments it represents are dangerous nonetheless. In contrast to what this declaration states, there is broad international consensus on the critical need for access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion.”
—Jenny Vanyur, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
The Trump administration has opposed the inclusion of language affirming that people around the world have inalienable “sexual and reproductive rights” in documents including the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The declaration introduced Thursday is aimed at “strengthening the family” and states that there is no “international obligation on the part of states to finance or facilitate abortion.” At the ceremony, Pompeo said the document “defends the unborn and reiterates the vital importance of the family,” while Planned Parenthood derided the declaration as a “farce” whose signatories are out of touch with public opinion regarding the right to abortion care.
“It carries no legitimacy within the U.N. system―but the sentiments it represents are dangerous nonetheless,” Jenny Vanyur, associate director of global advocacy for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told HuffPost. “In contrast to what this declaration states, there is broad international consensus on the critical need for access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion.”
According to Pew Research, 61% of Americans believe abortion care should be legal in all or most cases. Internationally, support is even greater, with Ipsos reporting last month that 70% of 17,500 adults surveyed in 25 countries support the right to abortion care.
Abortions have been recognized as a constitutional right in the U.S. since 1973, while the five countries that joined the U.S. as co-sponsors of the declaration—Egypt, Uganda, Indonesia, Brazil, and Hungary—impose severe restrictions on abortion access.
Other countries joining the U.S.-led coalition include Saudi Arabia, Belarus, and Poland, which on Thursday imposed a near-total ban on abortion, while longtime U.S. allies including France and the U.K. are steadfast supporters of the U.N.’s declarations affirming the right to abortion care.
As a constitutional tribunal in Poland handed down its ruling amid protests and the Trump administration celebrated the signing of the Geneva Consensus Declaration, Amnesty International issued a reminder on social media that outlawing abortion care does not stop women from obtaining abortions, but rather makes the procedure far less safe.
It’s that simple. Everyone has the right to decide what happens to their body. Criminalizing abortion doesn’t stop abortion, it just makes it less safe.
— Amnesty International (@amnesty) October 22, 2020
Other critics in the U.S. condemned the Trump administration for leading the international effort to undermine women’s reproductive rights.
This is a cruel attempt to spread an anti-abortion, anti-women, & ultimately anti-health care agenda across the globe amid a pandemic. This "consensus declaration" contradicts broad international law regarding the health & rights of women & girls. https://t.co/FuqO1wgEgn
— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) October 22, 2020
Another day, another shameful move by the State Department and HHS to dismantle long-standing international human rights agreements and frameworks. https://t.co/l5jgH9rMN2
— Planned Parenthood Global (@ppglobe) October 22, 2020
The declaration was signed a month after the State Department proposed an expansion of the global gag rule, which would further strip healthcare funding from global organizations which provide abortion care or counseling, and as the Republican-led Senate moved toward confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. The judge has publicly supported a Christian fundamentalist group which espouses extreme anti-choice views and has suggested the Supreme Court will restrict abortion access.
“This administration doesn’t seem content to stop until it has fully trampled on the rights, autonomy, and dignity of women and girls everywhere,” said Tarah Demant, director of the Gender, Sexuality, and Identity program at Amnesty International USA. “Every person has a right to their individual personal and bodily autonomy, despite this administration wanting to prescribe otherwise.”
Donald Trump’s eyes and ears at the Justice Department banned from the building: report
The Associated Press reported Thursday that President Donald Trump’s eyes and ears at the Justice Department was barred from entering the building.
The report revealed that Heidi Stirrup, "an ally of top Trump adviser Stephen Miller," was pressuring Justice Department staff to hand over sensitive documents and information about alleged "election fraud" and other issues that are important to Trump.
Attorney General Bill Barr told the AP on Tuesday that there was no widespread election fraud or voter fraud, as Trump has claimed for the past several weeks since losing the 2020 election. Trump alleged that Barr “hasn’t looked very hard."
Obama says some Black men are persuaded by Trump’s ‘macho’ bravado bragging about women and money
In part two of the SnapChat interview with President Barack Obama, Peter Hamby asked how President Donald Trump was able to persuade so many Black men to support him over President-elect Joe Biden.
When Obama was elected he got about 95 percent of the Black vote, where Biden got about 80 percent.
"Well, look, I think men, generally, are more susceptible to public figures who act tough, sort of the stereotypical macho style," Obama said, while videos of Trump showing off his flabby muscles appeared. "I don't think Black men are immune to that any more than White or Hispanic men are. A lot of the values of pop culture are extolling wealth, power, frankly, greed, not thinking about other people because you're so ruthless you're just looking out for yourself."
Vision-restoring brain implants spell breakthrough
Scientists are a step closer to restoring vision for the blind, after building an implant that bypasses the eyes and allows monkeys to perceive artificially induced patterns in their brains.
The technology, developed by a team at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN), was described in the journal Science on Thursday.
It builds on an idea first conceived decades ago: electrically stimulating the brain so it "sees" lighted dots known as phosphenes, which can also be thought of as artificial pixels.
But the concept had never realized its full potential because of technical limitations.