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The Trump administration is ramping up its fight against abortion at the United Nations, as top officials have signed a letter asking member states to fight for individual countries’ ability to “determine the best way to protect the unborn and defend the family,” the Guardian reported Monday.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar reportedly signed the letter, which was sent to governments who may also oppose abortion. The letter asks them to join a statement that proclaims their opposition to U.N. initiatives that support sexual and reproductive health and that, in the Trump administration’s view, could expand abortion access, according to the Guardian.
That statement is expected to be presented at the U.N. General Assembly on Monday, in a meeting on health coverage, the Guardian reported.
“As a key priority in global health promotion, we respectfully request that your government join the United States in ensuring that every sovereign state has the ability to determine the best way to protect the unborn and defend the family as the foundational unity of society vital to children thriving and leading healthy lives,” the letter reportedly read.
The letter reportedly went on to claim that some U.N. policies have sought to create a “new international right to abortion.”
“Evidence of this is found in references throughout many multilateral global health policy documents to interpret ‘comprehensive sexuality education’ and ‘sexual and reproductive health’ and ‘sexual and reproductive health and rights’ to diminish the role of parents in the most sensitive and personal family-oriented issues,” the letter continued. “The latter has been asserted to mean promotion of abortion, including pressuring countries to abandon religious principles and cultural norms enshrined in law that protect unborn life.”
The letter seems to mark the latest attempt by the Trump administration to remove references to sexual and reproductive health in U.N. human rights efforts. Its officials have also reportedly sought to wipe the word “gender” from the U.N.’s vocabulary, a move the Guardian called an apparent “part of the Trump administration’s campaign to define transgender people out of existence.”
The State Department did not return the Guardian’s request for comment about the letter.
In an emailed statement to VICE News, an HHS spokesperson said that the letter had been sent to ministers in 72 countries ahead of Monday’s meeting, “voicing U.S. concern about an aggressive effort in international settings that could decrease life-saving healthcare for millions of women.” The spokesperson said the letter called on countries to partner with the U.S in “supporting health for all people, born and unborn.”
They added, “Working with other nations on these shared health priorities will increase access to vital healthcare and advance optimal health outcomes for women, children, and adolescents — often the most vulnerable groups.”
Cover: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses the Family Research Council's Value Voters Summit at the Omni Shoreham Hotel September 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. The summit was the 12th annual gathering of activists and elected officials who oppose gay marriage and abortion and support the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)