Democratic lawmakers are calling on the State Department to review whether state abortion laws comply with human rights commitments.


Two Democratic members of Congress are calling on the State Department’s attorney general to remind state and local governments of their human rights commitments and to review how state abortion access laws comply with “international human rights and treaty obligations.” CNN

“In particular, we ask the State Department to reaffirm the US’s support and understanding of the international human rights protection of abortion to the relevant bodies of the United Nations, and in particular to the UN Commission on Human Rights,” Reps. Joaquin Castro of Texas and Sara Jacobs of California. He wrote to Richard Vis, the department’s acting legal counsel.

They also asked legal counsel to “clarify” the US commitment to protecting access to abortion worldwide.

The push from lawmakers comes after President Joe Biden promised to legislate abortion rights as early as this week, as his party seeks to capitalize on the political divide between the caucuses. Democrats hope abortion rights will energize and mobilize voters ahead of the midterm elections after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that established the constitutional right to abortion, after it was overturned.

“We are deeply troubled by the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter, and “believe that the Dobbs decision is not. It is not only harmful to US people seeking safe and secure legal access, but it also affects the US’s commitment to international human rights and its legal obligations.’

Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement following the Supreme Court’s June decision, which raised questions among State Department staff.

“So let me be clear: Under this Administration, the State Department will remain fully committed to helping provide access to reproductive health services and promoting reproductive rights around the world. And this Department will do everything possible to ensure that all our employees have access to reproductive health services. , where they live”, he said then.

Democratic lawmakers, while acknowledging their appreciation for Blinken’s statements, wrote that the department is seeking confirmation of its commitments, particularly from the legal counsel, who has a key role in appearing before human rights treaty bodies.

The internal “rollback of abortion rights,” they said, threatens America’s position as a global human rights leader.

“The perception of a decline in US commitment to protecting women’s rights and to international law more generally would be particularly damaging because the United States has historically championed women’s rights and reproductive rights,” the letter says.

The Trump administration took a different stance on the issue of universal access to abortion, with then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opposing the “proliferation” of human rights.

The US is currently bound by treaties that protect access to abortion, and there are other treaties that the US has signed but not ratified that protect access to abortion. There could be opportunities for the U.S. to participate in revisions to the treaty next year, a congressional staffer familiar with the letter told CNN.

“The previous administration denied reproductive rights as a human right and this administration has made it clear that the United States supports reproductive rights,” the congressional staffer said. “There may be other opportunities in this administration for the U.S. to present its record and be very clear about what the administration’s commitments are and how it intends to deliver on those commitments.”