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U.S. effort to remove ‘sexual health’ from U.N. agreement may violate law, say senators

By Jessica Glenza, The Guardian, October 2019

The Trump administration may have violated federal law by lobbying more than 70 countries to remove protections for “sexual and reproductive health” from a UN agreement, according to a letter from four US senators seen by the Guardian.

The letter from the senators, all high-ranking Democrats, focuses on an effort from the Trump administration to remove “sexual and reproductive health” from a high-level UN agreement on universal health coverage.

The group of four senators wrote they were “alarmed that your opposition to abortion care – as stated in the letter – harms women and families, as well as endangers millions of women and girls”. The letter was signed by the US senators Dianne Feinstein of California, Patty Murray of Washington, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

“We are also concerned the letter may violate the Siljander Amendment, which prohibits use of foreign assistance in lobbying ‘for or against abortion’,” the senators wrote.

Efforts to remove “sexual and reproductive health” from international agreements have continued amid the lawmakers’ criticism. This week, Kelly Craft, US ambassador to the UN, said the US “could not accept” a resolution on women, peace and security because it included references to previous resolutions that included this phrase.

Removing language about sexual and reproductive health from international agreements has been a longtime goal of ultra-conservative religious organisations. The Trump administration, which relies on a base of conservative evangelical and Catholic voters, has proved a staunch ally to the groups.

Read the rest of the story via The Guardian