The Trump administration is continuing to infect the world with their toxicity, and now the members of it have brought their incendiary policy approaches to the United Nations in a fresh context.
The annual UN Commission on the Status of Women was recently held, and during that meeting, representatives of the United States asserted repeatedly to the bewilderment of many of those present that our nation is “pro-life” and such would be affecting what we agreed to.
The commission produces a yearly document outlining a global stance on women’s health issues, and the negotiations over what would go into that document were one of the contexts in which U.S. officials asserted their “pro-life” positions.
According to two officials who were present, senior adviser for gender equality and women’s empowerment at the U.S. Agency for International Development Bethany Kozma was among the first to make a pronouncement to that effect.
One official from the United Nations described that situation by telling Buzzfeed News:
‘When she said that there was sort of a record scratch and silence. Everyone was like, “are you kidding me?”‘
Director of the International Women’s Health Coalition Shannon Kowalski called the positions advanced by the Trump administration during the summit “far more extreme than the U.S. was under the Bush administration,” even though obviously George W. Bush was a Republican just like Donald Trump is.
Six sources who either attended the meetings or were briefed on them described what went down as nearly the entirety of the commission coming together against the United States in support of basic ideals about family planning. In the end, the rest of the commission managed to get the United States to agree to a handful of those basic ideals so that they could be included in the document produced by the commission, which can only have an element if it is unanimously agreed upon.
One official from the United Nations told Buzzfeed:
‘The rest of the membership came together and stared the [U.S.] down and said, ‘We’re going to still have language on sexual and reproductive health, yes we are.’ And we won.’
Language about sexual and reproductive health made it into the final draft of the report produced by this year’s Commission on the Status of Women, but language about sex education or contraception did not make it in.
To be clear, it is not as though the suggestion that representatives of the Trump administration parroted wildly conservative, anti-female viewpoints in closed door meetings at the United Nations is far-fetched. The Trump administration’s State Department released a statement in connection to this year’s CSW that asserted that the government “does not understand the term sexual and reproductive health to include the promotion of abortion and educational strategies that may increase sexual risk for youth.”
The “educational strategies” that the Trump administration would like to see implemented include — surprise surprise — abstinence. During a meeting during this year’s CSW meant to provide a platform for the United States to brief nongovernmental organizations about our work with women’s rights, U.S. Health and Human Services official Valerie Huber lauded the idea of “trying to get women to make better choices in the future,” according to one delegate, who noted that the concept being promoted was that “terrifying and outmoded idea that women make bad sexual choices, and that what happens to them is their fault.”
This situation is both disturbing and ironic considering who leads the administration establishing itself at the United Nations with these positions.
Donald Trump — who has carried on with an array of extramarital affairs — remains credibly accused of sexual misconduct by numerous women. At the same time, the #MeToo movement is continuing to rage across the country, bringing down men in positions of power who have gotten away with sexual misconduct for too long.
In the face of this movement, the position that the federal government is taking is that it’s the woman’s fault when something negative happens to them.
Featured Image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images