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The United Nations' deputy high commissioner for human rights said on Wednesday that the numerous abortion bans being passed in the United States are a form of “extremist hate” that amount to “torture.”
“We have not called it out in the same way we have other forms of extremist hate, but this is gender-based violence against women, no question,” Kate Gilmore told The Guardian.
“It’s clear it’s torture — it’s a deprivation of a right to health,” she added.
Gilmore said experts have noted that banning abortion outright, as several U.S. states have come close to doing in recent months, violates humans rights. States like Georgia, Alabama, Missouri and Ohio have passed strict abortion restrictions that would bar abortions before many women even know they are pregnant.
“This is a crisis.” Gilmore said. “It’s a crisis directed at women.”
Gilmore also accused well-funded anti-abortion groups of ignoring evidence to advance their political goals.
“This is a crisis. It’s a crisis directed at women.”
“It’s an assault on truth, science and universal values and norms,” she said. “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.”
This week, the largest organization of obstetricians and gynecologists in the U.S. also spoke out about the science used to restrict abortion rights, taking aim at early abortion bans proponents describe as “heartbeat bills.” These bills ban abortions as early as six weeks, when an ultrasound can detect a fetal “heartbeat.” But the term “heartbeat” isn’t medically correct, because at such an early stage in the pregnancy, the embryo doesn’t have a heart.
“What is interpreted as a heartbeat in these bills is actually electrically induced flickering of a portion of the fetal tissue that will become the heart as the embryo develops,” Ted Anderson, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said to the Guardian this week.
But while states have passed these so-called “heartbeat” bills, none have gone into effect. Lawmakers have openly stated that the goal of the bills banning abortions is to challenge and overturn Roe v. Wade, which guarantees women the right to have an abortion until the fetus is viable, typically around 24 weeks.
Gilmore also noted that abortion restrictions put poorer women, and women who face other forms of marginalization, at particular risk.
“We have to stand with the evidence and facts and in solidarity with women, and in particular young women and minority women who are really under the gun,” Gilmore told the Guardian.
"This doesn’t affect well-off women in the same way as women with no resources, or able-bodied women the way it affects disabled women, and urban women the way it affects rural women.”
Cover: Abortion-rights supporters take part in a protest Thursday, May 30, 2019, in St. Louis. A St. Louis judge heard an hour of arguments Thursday on Planned Parenthood's request for a temporary restraining order that would prohibit the state from allowing the license for Missouri's only abortion clinic to lapse at midnight Friday. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)