Sep 24, 2019

U.S. urges UN to omit reproductive health terms from policies

Alex Azar. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar urged world leaders at the UN General Assembly Monday to exclude mentions of reproductive health in policy documentation because such language could "promote practices, like abortion."

Context: The Trump administration has favored conservative policies on reproductive health, specifically as it pertains to a woman's right to an abortion. During President Trump's tenure, several states have begun to roll back abortion rights, with the underlying hope that Trump's conservative appointments to the Supreme Court could overturn or diminish Roe v. Wade.

There is no international right to an abortion and these terms should not be used to promote pro-abortion policies and measures."
— Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speech to UN

Details: Azar noted during his address at a meeting on universal health coverage that abortion laws vary at a global level, as he argued leaving terms referencing reproductive health out would protect differences between countries on the issue.

  • He said such terms do not adequately take into account the key role of the family in health and education, "nor the sovereign right of nations to implement health policies according to their national context.
  • "We do not support references to ambiguous terms and expressions, such as sexual and reproductive health and rights in UN documents, because they can undermine the critical role of the family and promote practices, like abortion, in circumstances that do not enjoy international consensus and which can be misinterpreted by UN agencies," Azar said.

The big picture: Azar spoke on behalf of the U.S. and other nations, including Bahrain, Belarus, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Saudi Arabia, The Hill notes.

Go deeper: How many steps it takes to get an abortion in each state

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Supreme Court agrees to hear Louisiana abortion case

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to take up a case in its next term involving a controversial Louisiana abortion law, the first time the high court will hear an abortion case with a solidified conservative majority.

The backdrop, per the AP: Louisiana's law requires doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital in order to perform an abortion — a restriction that would leave the state with effectively only a single abortion clinic. The law is similar to a Texas law that the court struck down in 2016 — before President Trump's appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, joined the bench.

Go deeper ... Where abortion restrictions stand: The states that have passed laws

In the Supreme Court, it's all been building to this

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh on Feb. 5. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

This fall will present the first real test of whether a Supreme Court with two Trump appointees will deliver the change Republicans dreamed of when they stonewalled the nomination of Merrick Garland.

What's new: The Supreme Court agreed to take up a case on Louisiana's abortion law which requires doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital in order to perform an abortion.

Go deeperArrowOct 4, 2019

Georgia's 'fetal heartbeat' abortion ban temporarily blocked by judge

Students protest against Georgia's abortion restritions at the State Capitol building on May 21, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked Georgia's "fetal heartbeat" abortion ban, which prohibits and criminalizes abortions as early as 6 weeks into a pregnancy, the AP reports.

The big picture: The majority of states that have passed the most restrictive abortion laws in generations have now had those laws temporarily blocked in court. The Georgia law would have gone into effect in January 2020. Conservatives have been advancing restrictive abortion policies in hopes of sparking a fresh Supreme Court case against the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Go deeperArrowOct 1, 2019