WASHINGTON― An estimated 225 million women in the world who want to avoid pregnancy lack access to safe and reliable contraceptives. But President Donald Trump appointed two delegates to the 61st Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women this week who believe birth control access is “antithetical to the values and needs of women worldwide.”
The State Department announced on Monday that it is sending Lisa Correnti, the executive vice president of the Center for Family and Human Rights, to “the most important annual meeting on women’s issues at the United Nations.”
Her organization has been designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. She and the other delegate, Grace Melton, a conservative activist with the Heritage Foundation, have both criticized feminists for promoting contraception use, LGBT anti-discrimination efforts and safe abortion access, according to research by the progressive group American Bridge.
“Alarmingly, this radical feminist agenda reduces the diverse economic, political, and social needs of women around the world to issues of sexuality and fertility,” Melton wrote in a 2011 article. “At the U.N., nearly every conversation, forum, and program that purports to be concerned with women has a monomaniacal focus on such matters as sexual rights, reproductive health, contraception, and abortion.”
Correnti is a longtime anti-abortion activist who has argued that “gay parenting” is “harmful” to children. Her organization refers to family planning and contraception as “population control” and has actively lobbied against it.
“Elite billionaires and powerful governments use the guise of ‘helping poor women’ to extract permanent funding for abortion-promoting and population control groups,” the group said in a 2012 statement on the London Summit on Family Planning. “Contraception will have a higher priority than education, basic health care, infrastructure, and economic improvements - diverting funding from measures that empower women and communities. None of the contraception programs help pregnant women or newborns.”
Trump told Congress in his recent address that he intends to “invest in women’s health.” But he has made it clear, with these appointments and other policy moves, that his administration does not support increased access to reproductive health care globally. In one of his first acts as president, he reinstated the global gag rule, which withholds U.S. foreign aid funding to international health organizations that counsel women on family planning options that include abortion. The gag rule, first put in place by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, has forced has forced health providers “to fire staff, reduce their services or even close their clinics altogether,” according to the Guttmacher Institute.
And this week, Trump released his budget proposal that slashes domestic and global assistance funding while increasing military spending. Women’s health advocates warned that the cuts could be deadly. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 21 million women a year have unsafe abortions in developing countries, accounting for about 13 percent of all maternal deaths.
“Trump’s budget cuts are not about health outcomes, but rather about pursing the isolationist and anti-woman ideologies that are pervasive throughout his administration,” said Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity. “The Trump approach to global assistance will be inefficient, ineffective, and it will kill women.”