US balks at 'abortion' mention in UN call to fight abuse of women

US representative Jason Mack said the US does not recognise abortion as a method of family planning.
US representative Jason Mack said the US does not recognise abortion as a method of family planning.PHOTO: ST FILE

GENEVA (AFP) - The UN Human Rights Council unanimously adopted a resolution Thursday (June 22) condemning abuse and discrimination of women, but Washington refused to back one paragraph mentioning access to safe abortions.

The strongly-worded resolution, tabled by Canada, expressed "outrage at the persistence and pervasiveness of all forms of violence against women and girls worldwide," calling on countries to take immediate steps to prevent gender-based violence and discrimination.

The resolution was adopted by the council without a vote, but several countries, including Bangladesh, China and Egypt took issue with parts or all of the text.

US representative Jason Mack voiced strong support for "the spirit" of the resolution.

But he said the United States could not join the consensus behind the resolution when it came to one paragraph dedicated to women's rights to reproductive health care.

The paragraph calls on countries to ensure their health systems provide "quality comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care services", including "safe abortion where such services are permitted by national law".

"The United States fully supports the principle of voluntary choice regarding maternal and child health and family planning," Mack told the council.

But "we do not recognise abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our reproductive health assistance," he added.

Since President Donald Trump came to power in January, his government has dramatically expanded a policy blocking US assistance to foreign groups that perform or even provide information about abortions.