Human rights groups press UN to get involved in American battle to save abortion rights: report

Human rights groups press UN to get involved in American battle to save abortion rights: report
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Although the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization was not the end of legal abortion in the United States, it ended abortion as a national right and paved the way for a long list of Republican-controlled states to enact draconian anti-abortion laws. Abortion's legality or illegality is now determined on a state-by-state basis, and many Democratic governors — from Michigan's Gretchen Whitmer to California's Gavin Newsom to Pennsylvania's Josh Shapiro — have vowed to aggressively protect abortion rights in their states.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Mike Pence and other Republicans are calling for a nationwide abortion ban, which is unlikely to happen as long as Democrats control the White House and the U.S. Senate. Any anti-abortion laws passed by the U.S. House of Representatives (where Republicans have a narrow single-digit majority) in 2023 will encounter stiff opposition from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) as well as Democratic President Joe Biden, but a federal abortion ban is entirely possible in 2025 if Republicans retake the Senate and the White House next year.

On Thursday, March 2, a long list of human rights organizations and pro-choice activists, according to The Guardian's Poppy Noor, sent the United Nations (UN) a letter urging them to get involved in the fight to preserve abortion rights in the U.S. The groups that signed the letter included, among many others, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Pregnancy Justice, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) and the Global Justice Center.

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The Guardian has obtained a copy of the letter, which argues that American women, post-Roe, are facing a "human rights crisis."

"With the Dobbs decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutionally protected right to access abortion, leaving the question of whether and how to regulate abortion to individual states," the letter explains. "Approximately 22 million women and girls of reproductive age in the U.S. now live in states where abortion access is heavily restricted, and often totally inaccessible. The harms of the Dobbs decision detailed in this appeal include the impact on women's lives and health; the penalization of healthcare, including criminalization; threats to privacy from increased digital surveillance; infringement on freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief; and the disproportionate impact on marginalized populations."

The letter goes on to argue that because of Dobbs, the United States is now "in violation of its obligations under international human rights law."

"The signatories call on the UN mandate holders to take up their calls to action, which include communicating with the U.S. regarding the human rights violations, requesting a visit to the U.S., convening a virtual stakeholder meeting with U.S. civil society, calls for the U.S. to comply with its obligations under international law, and calls for private companies to take a number of actions to protect reproductive rights," the letter says.

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The Global Justice Center's legal director, Christine Ryan, is calling for the United States to be shamed internationally because of Dobbs.

Ryan told The Guardian, "The U.S. must be castigated on the world stage for its treatment of women, girls, and others who can become pregnant. The scale and intensity of human rights violations that the U.S. is inflicting on its population are near unfathomable at this point."

Annerieke Smaak Daniel believes that abortion rights are both a racial issue and a class issue.

Daniel told The Guardian, "The Dobbs ruling pushed the U.S. even further out of line with its human rights obligations, including its obligation to ensure access to abortion and to eliminate structural racism and discrimination. Abortion restrictions compound economic, social, and geographic barriers to healthcare, including contraception, disproportionately impacting Black women's ability to access the care we need."

READ MORE: 'Control — that's all they care about': How Tennessee's 'unconstitutional' anti-abortion law imperils women

Read The Guardian's full report at this link.

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