Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Monday, June 1, 2020

United Nations Working Group Declares Eight US States In Breach for COVID Restrictions on Abortion

US States Manipulating Covid-19 Pandemic to Restrict Abortion Access, Rights Experts Charge

Members of the UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls issued a statement on Wednesday expressing regret that states such as Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Iowa, Ohio, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee “appear to be manipulating the crisis” to curb women’s reproductive rights.

 

UN experts are concerned some US states – such as Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Iowa, Ohio, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee – appear to be manipulating crisis measures to restrict access to essential. services.

 

“This situation is also the latest example illustrating a pattern of restrictions and retrogressions in access to legal abortion care across the country. We fear that, without clear political will to reverse such restrictive and regressive trends, states will continue pursuing this pattern,” said Elizabeth Broderick, Vice-Chair of the Working Group.***

 

The Working Group was also extremely concerned by the US insistence to remove references to “sexual and reproductive health and its derivatives” from the Global Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) on COVID-19, as expressed through a letter on 18 May from USAID to the UN Secretary-General.

 

“We reiterate that sexual and reproductive health services, including access to safe and legal abortion, are essential and must remain a key component of the UN’s priorities in its responses to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ms. Broderick.

 

“Removing references to sexual and reproductive health from the HRP will have devastating consequences for women worldwide. It will seriously undermine the international community’s joint effort to respond to women’s health needs in this time of crisis.”

 

Global Times, US Women's Rights Breach

Some US states are exploiting the coronavirus crisis to restrict access to abortion, a group of independent United Nations (UN) rights experts said on Wednesday.

Eight states have used COVID-19 emergency orders - which suspend medical procedures not deemed immediately necessary - to limit access to pregnancy terminations, said the UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls.

The group singled out Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

"We regret that the above-mentioned states, with a long history of restrictive practices against abortion, appear to be manipulating the crisis to severely restrict women's reproductive rights," said the group's vice-chair Elizabeth Broderick.

The independent experts do not speak for the UN but report their findings to the world body.

 

"For many women in the US, bans on abortion during this pandemic will delay abortion care beyond the legal time limit or render abortion services completely inaccessible," said Broderick.

Those who do seek termination services will be forced to travel interstate, thereby risking their own health and disregarding public health guidelines, the experts said.

"Abortion care constitutes essential health care and must remain available during the COVID-19 crisis," Broderick added.

"Restrictions on access to comprehensive reproductive health information and services, including abortion as well as contraception, constitute human rights violations and can cause irreversible harm."

The group said it was "inherently discriminatory" to women to deny them access to services only they require.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/gender_law/2020/06/united-nations-working-group-declares-eight-us-states-in-breach-of-international-law-for-covid-restr.html

Abortion, Healthcare, International | Permalink

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