Hours after President Donald Trump threatened to quit the World Health Organization, the U.S. rejected abortion language in the World Health Organization’s coronavirus resolution Tuesday.
The U.S. representatives to the World Health Assembly said in a statement that it “dissociates” from the World Health Organization (WHO) language on guaranteeing the rights of poor countries to forgo intellectual property rules during emergencies in order to get medicine and to guarantee reproductive and sexual healthcare during the pandemic.
“The United States strongly supports women reaching the highest attainable outcomes for health, life, dignity, and well-being throughout their lives,” the statement said.
“We champion access to high-quality health care for women and girls across the lifespan. However, we do not accept references to ‘sexual and reproductive health,’ or other language that suggests or explicitly states that access to abortion is included in the provision of population and individual level health services,” the statement said.
“The United States believes in legal protections for the unborn, and rejects any interpretation of international human rights,” the statement continues. “As President Trump has stated, ‘Americans will never tire of defending innocent life.’ Each nation has the sovereign right to implement related programs and activities consistent with their laws and policies, free from external pressure.”
The statement notes that “there is no international right to abortion,” that there is no duty on the part of states to either “finance or facilitate abortion,” and that the United States does not recognize abortion as “a method of family planning.”
Despite the objection to the abortion language, the U.S. did not vote against the resolution, but allowed it to pass by unanimous consent.
The rejection of abortion language comes after Trump issued an ultimatum to the WHO Monday night over the organization’s “alarming lack of independence” from the Chinese government. Trump warned the WHO to reform within the next month or lose U.S. funding. (RELATED: World Health Organization: Abortion Is ‘Essential’ During Coronavirus Pandemic)
“I cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organization that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America’s interests,” POTUS’s letter to the WHO says. Trump criticized the WHO’s “alarming lack of independence” from the Chinese government.
This is the letter sent to Dr. Tedros of the World Health Organization. It is self-explanatory! pic.twitter.com/pF2kzPUpDv
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2020
“If the World Health Organization does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization,” the president added in the letter.
The WHO told the Daily Caller News Foundation in early April that “services related to reproductive health are considered to be part of essential services during the COVID-19 outbreak.”
“Women’s choices and rights to sexual and reproductive health care should be respected, irrespective of whether or not she has a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection,” WHO said in the statement to the DCNF.
“This includes contraception, quality health care during and after pregnancy and childbirth, and safe abortion to the full extent of the law,” the organization said, noting that the WHO provides both global technology and policy guidance to WHO members “on the use of contraception to prevent unintended pregnancy, safe abortion, and treatment of complications from unsafe abortion.”
The WHO did not respond to repeated requests for comment from the DCNF.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include more detail of the statement from the U.S. representatives to the World Health Assembly.
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