US State Department Should Review Abortion Rights Obligations Under International Law: Congressional Democrats – JURIST

Democratic members of Congress on Friday asked the Department of State to review the obligations of the United States regarding the right to abortion under international law and to remind US states that pass restrictive abortion laws of these obligations.

In a letter, the group of 69 lawmakers explained:

The regression of abortion rights in the United States threatens our position as a world leader in human rights. With the Dobbs decision, the United States joins Nicaragua, El Salvador, Ecuador and Poland as the only countries to have reduced reproductive rights protections after previously expanding them. The perception of diminishing US commitment to the protection of women’s rights and international law in general would be particularly damaging, as the United States has historically championed women’s rights and reproductive rights.

The letter cites various international agreements to which the United States is a party that protect the right to abortion, including Section 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 6 states that “every human being has the inherent right to life. This right is protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of life. » The United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) is responsible for implementing the ICCPR and has declared Article 6 protects the right to abortion. Article 6 requires countries party to the agreement, such as the United States, to ensure that people do not need to resort to unsafe abortion options. Countries “shall provide safe, legal and effective access to abortion when the life and health of the pregnant woman or girl is at risk, or when carrying a pregnancy to term would cause the woman or the pregnant girl significant pain or suffering, especially when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or when the pregnancy is not viable”. The HRC also urged countries to remove existing barriers to safe and legal abortion and refrain from introducing new barriers.

Besides the ICCPR, the Congressional group mentions other international agreements that have addressed access to abortion, such as the Committee against Torture and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). . CERD August 2022 report on the United States expressed concern about Dobbs decision restricting abortion and the resulting “profound disparate impact on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of racial and ethnic minorities”.