Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 22, 2023 / 10:30 am (CNA).
Global leaders adopted a United Nations resolution this week that urged member states to take certain actions when preparing for and responding to a pandemic — one of those actions appears to ask governments to secure access to abortion.
The resolution’s language states that the focus is “pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response” and asks states to commit to actions that are “driven by equity and the respect for human rights.” The section focused on equality includes a commitment by states to protecting “reproductive rights.”
“[We] call upon member states to take all measures necessary to ensure the right of women and girls to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual and reproductive health, and reproductive rights,” operative paragraph 10 of the global “call to action” reads in part.
United Nations General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding and member states have wide discretion in how they interpret the text. However, some pro-life lawmakers are concerned about the language.
“And, for the pro-life community, they are now seeing that the work isn’t just here at home, it’s not just in our state capitols, it’s not just here on Capitol Hill,” Cammack said. “It’s a global fight that we have to undertake as well.”
The reproductive rights language was supported and endorsed by President Joe Biden’s administration earlier this year. In February, United States U.N. Ambassador Pamela K. Hamamoto specifically requested that the language be included.
“Our work must be inclusive and applicable for the improved health and well-being of all people,” Hamamoto said in her statement to the U.N. regarding the pandemic resolution.
“A commitment to ‘equity’ must address inequities not only between countries but also within them,” Hamamoto continued. “Not just protecting populations from pandemics — but also from illness, death, and disrupted access to essential health care services during pandemics, including sexual and reproductive health services.”
Stefano Gennarini, the vice president for legal studies at the Center for Family and Human Rights, told “EWTN News Nightly” that pressure from the Biden administration indicates that this section of the resolution is about global abortion access.
“We know, given the Biden administration’s support for abortion, we know this to mean an attempt essentially to create an international right to abortion,” Gennarini said.
World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued a statement praising the resolution. His statement referenced the WHO’s support for equity in health care but did not reference the statement on reproductive rights.
“I welcome this commitment by world leaders to provide the political support and direction needed so that WHO, governments, and all involved can protect people’s health and take concrete steps towards investing in local capacities, ensuring equity and supporting the global emergency health architecture that the world needs,” Ghebreyesus said.
The WHO is working with U.N. member states to amend international health regulations that focus on issues that arose during the pandemic.
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