US Signs International Consensus on Women’s Health Declaring There Is No Universal ‘Right to Abortion’

Photo Credit: Jonathan Borba/Pexels

WASHINGTON — The United States hosted a virtual signing of the Geneva Consensus Declaration on Thursday, joining with 31 nations to declare their commitment to women’s health and the strengthening of the family, while also proclaiming that there is no international “right to abortion.”

The event featured remarks from Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who state that they have been co-laboring to promote the value of the unborn.

“Alex and I both share a deep and very personal commitment to protect human dignity. Our agencies have worked tirelessly together,” Pompeo said. “It’s historic to be here. It’s the first time that a multilateral coalition has been built around the issue of defending life.”

He explained that he and Azar sent a letter to likeminded countries last year to ask that they join in the effort to promote human dignity, and 2o of those leaders came up with a joint statement denouncing abortion advocacy sentiments in UN documents.

“Today, we’re taking the next step, as we sign the Geneva Consensus Declaration. At its very core, the declaration protects women’s health, defends the unborn, and reiterates the vital importance of the family as the foundation of society,” Pompeo outlined. “It’s a group of countries that respects life, and the U.S. is proud to stand with each and every one of them.”

The declaration states that the signing nations “[e]mphasize that ‘in no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning’ and that ‘any measures or changes related to abortion within the health system can only be determined at the national or local level according to the national legislative process.”

The countries also “[r]eaffirm that ‘the child … needs special safeguards and care … before as well as after birth’ and [that] ‘special measures of protection and assistance should be taken on behalf of all children,’ based on the principle of the best interest of the child.”

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The document proclaims the nations’ commitment to improving health care for women but “without including abortion” and again affirms that “there is no international right to abortion, nor any international obligation on the part of States to finance or facilitate abortion, consistent with the long-standing international consensus that each nation has the sovereign right to implement programs and activities consistent with their laws and policies.”

Signing countries include Belarus, Cameroon, Egypt, Haiti, Hungary, Iraq, Kenya, Pakistan, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, and Zambia.

Azar says that other nations are welcome to sign the declaration at any time.

“Tragically, women around the world unnecessarily suffer health challenges — all too often, deadly health challenges — while too many wealthy nations and international institutions put a myopic focus on a radical agenda that is offensive to many cultures and derails agreement on women’s health priorities,” he remarked at the signing.

“Today, we put down a clear marker: No longer can U.N. agencies reinterpret and misinterpret agreed-upon language without accountability. Member States set the policy for the U.N. to pursue. Not the other way around,” he said.

“Without apology, we affirm that governments have the sovereign right to make their own laws to protect innocent life and write their regulations on abortion. The stakes are too high to permit radical, divisive agendas to hinder the ability of women in countries at all stages of development to attain better health.”

Read the Geneva Consensus Declaration in full here. 

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