by Travis Weber
April 24, 2018
Some activists are upset that the current State Department is going back to conducting worldwide reporting on violations of human rights law instead of the activist flavor of the day. “We are a nation founded on the belief that every person is endowed with inalienable rights. Promoting and defending these rights is central to who we are as a country” (emphasis added), the report began, before going on to report on human rights around the world.
Yet to hear international legal activists describe it, the Trump administration is taking us to the dark ages once again. The administration has allegedly “erase[d] reproductive rights” from the reporting. Over-used and hyperbolic language aside (the term “erase” must have poll-tested well), articles like this are entirely wrong about human rights law and fail to provide historic context on this issue.
If President Obama injected “reproductive rights” into the process in 2011, as the article admits, how was the issue dealt with before then? Is President Trump merely stopping the last administration’s activist approach to the issue, and bringing us back in line with the (bipartisan) approach we enjoyed for decades before? This would be nice to know. Yet we are left without any objective picture or understanding of human rights law from such “news” stories. The irony is that sites like Rewire only further cement and confirm the “fake news” narrative.
The truth is, as the State Department pointed out, the Trump administration was only returning to the clear requirements of international human rights law—which contains no “right to abortion.” In the face of this fact, abortion activist groups like Amnesty International USA could only try the feeble response: “Reproductive rights are human rights.” Except, they’re not. I welcome anyone at Amnesty to show me where such a notion is contained in international law.
It’s not for lack of trying on the part of those who want such a “right” in place. Abortion advocates ceaselessly push their agendas in international forums, eliciting public statements and “rulings” in the context of international organizations to try to claim there is a “right to abortion.” But none of this actually changes the law.
The State Department’s approach to human rights in this report is fair, neutral, and objective. Its critics should aspire to the same standard.