Last week, the Trump administration again promoted pro life policies across the globe. For the second time, the United States kept language that would potentially allow abortions to be categorized and funded as “humanitarian aid” out of a United Nations Security Council resolution on aiding women in crisis and conflict. Under the Trump administration, the United States has worked to eliminate the phraseology “sexual and reproductive health” from United Nations documents.
The United States had wanted to go even further and eliminate any reference in the resolution to other documents that mentioned the term. According to C-Fam, U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN Kelly Craft said after the unanimous vote to adopt the resolution, “We cannot accept references to ‘sexual and reproductive health,’ nor any references to ‘safe termination of pregnancy’ or language that would promote abortion or suggest a right to abortion.”
The term “sexual and reproductive health” was allowed to proliferate as long as it could be kept ambiguous: pro-life, mostly developing, countries could claim it did not include abortion while still accepting reproductive health funding from donor nations.
The diplomatic bargain of deliberate ambiguity, worked out in the halls of UN negotiating rooms, is not enforced on the ground. Donors, mostly Europeans, who define the term as including abortion, include it in foreign aid. UN agencies and implementing partners use the ambiguity to include abortion even where it is restricted, and to advocate for further liberalization as a matter of rights, though it is not in any UN agency’s official mandate or any UN human rights treaty.
Earlier this fall the Trump administration also took a stand opposing radical pro-abortion policies at the United Nations in a letter in which the United States urged member countries of the United Nations to join the United States in opposing harmful, pro abortion policies.
“We remain gravely concerned that aggressive efforts to reinterpret international instruments to create a new international right to abortion and to promote international policies that weaken the family have advanced through some United Nations fora,” the letter stated.
The letter asked countries to join together with the United States to ensure that every nation can “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.”
Additionally, the letter expressed concerns about the overall diminished role that parents now play in their children’s lives when it comes to topics like sex education. The letter also pointed out that vague phrases like the term “sexual and reproductive health” could be used to push abortion on other countries.