The Biden administration said Wednesday it will consider a country’s restrictions on abortion a violation of human rights in a reversal from the Trump administration, which had removed a section on “reproductive health” from an annual human rights report.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken made the comments following the release of the State Department’s 2020 Human Rights Reports on foreign countries, which details violations of religious and human rights around the world.
Blinken said the previous administration had released “unbalanced statements” that “suggest a hierarchy” on human rights. Although Blinken was not specific, Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said his department would focus on violations of religious liberty and property rights.
“All people are entitled to these rights, no matter where they’re born, what they believe, whom they love, or any other characteristic,” he said. “Human rights are also co-equal; there is no hierarchy that makes some rights more important than others. Past unbalanced statements that suggest such a hierarchy, including those offered by a recently disbanded State Department advisory committee, do not represent a guiding document for this administration. At my confirmation hearing, I promised that the Biden-Harris administration would repudiate those unbalanced views. We do so decisively today.”
Violations of “reproductive rights,” Blinken said, are as significant as violations of religious liberty. “Reproductive rights” is a phrase used by the pro-choice community that includes abortion.
“For many years, our human rights reports contained a section on reproductive health, including information about maternal mortality, discrimination against women in accessing sexual and reproductive health care, and government policies about access to contraception and skilled health care during pregnancy and childbirth,” Blinken said. “These topics were removed from the country reports by the previous administration, so they’re not a part of the reports released today, which cover the year 2020. I’ve asked our team to release an addendum for each country report later this year that will cover these issues.”
Blinken added, “Women’s rights – including sexual and reproductive rights – are human rights.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Samuel Corum/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.