Alex Azar Calls for Exclusion of Reproductive Health from UN Documents

Alex Azar

During a meeting on universal health coverage at the UN General Assembly that took place in New York on Monday, the Health and Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar, expressed his views upon excluding references to reproductive health and rights in policy documentation.

Azar even asked the UN to oppose “ambiguous terms” pertaining to sexual health and rights in the documents, a move that has highly been supported by the government and various other countries including Bahrain, Belarus, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Saudi Arabia.

Azar supported his appeal with a cause saying that it would otherwise “promote practices, like abortion in circumstances that do not enjoy international consensus and which can be misinterpreted by UN agencies”.

As known, abortion ban became a heated issue in several US states earlier this year. Since, the ban only permitted the women, whose lives were at great risk to undergo abortions, it brought huge protests against the government and its unfair policies. In the same context Alex Azar said that since there is no international right to an abortion, ambiguous terms that promote pro-abortion policies and measures should be avoided in the UN resolution so that people do not reinterpret international instruments to create a new international right to abortion.

“Such terms do not adequately take into account the key role of the family in health and education, nor the sovereign right of nations to implement health policies according to their national context. There is no international right to an abortion and these terms should not be used to promote pro-abortion policies and measures,” Azar added.

While making his remarks on behalf of the US and other countries, Alex Azar said that all of the representatives supported sex education “that appreciates the protective role of the family in this education and does not condone harmful sexual risks for young people.”

One of the major goals behind all the requests to the UN was to maintain huge focus on concrete efforts and to accelerate the health services, providing medicines and vaccines. Moreover, the world leaders also adopted a political declaration on universal health coverage, reaffirming UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The critics called it a landmark for global health and development.

During the meeting Alex Azar said, “We support equal access to health care, which includes, but is not limited to reproductive concerns, maternal health, voluntary and informed family planning, HIV, elimination of violence against women and girls, and empowerment to reach the highest standard of health.”

The requests clearly denote the government’s major role in shaping the UN policies. In April, a similar procedure was followed to amend the UN policies, where a US delegation to the UN threatened the UNSC with its veto power to demand significant changes to a resolution on sexual violence.  

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