Britain resists US-led anti-abortion agenda

11 Apr 19

Britain’s international development secretary has put herself at odds with efforts by the US to erode abortion rights.

Penny Mordaunt said the UK remains committed to improving reproductive rights for women and aims to continue driving progress in this “absolutely critical” area.

“Leadership means not shying away from the issues of access to safe abortion, when the evidence shows us that these services save women’s lives,” she said.

“Everyone should have control over their own bodies and their own futures.

“That means every girl and every woman having access to the information they need, the freedom to choose what’s right for them, and the services and support they need to make their own decisions.”

Mordaunt was speaking at an event hosted by the Canadian High Commission and promised to stand firm in her support for abortion rights in the face of efforts by some countries – notably the US – to roll them back globally.

She praised joint efforts by the UK and Canada to counter this.

“Comprehensive Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) is an area where the UK and Canada are continuing to deepen our partnership as likeminded leaders in this field,” she said.

“In January this year, we co-hosted a multi sector Safe Abortion dialogue here in London to drive progress and momentum in this absolutely critical area.

“And at the Commission on the Status of Women last month we held a strong line together, resisting the ‘pushback’ as the Secretary General called it.”

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has recently expanded the so-called “Mexico City policy” to ban funding for organisations that Washington judges are working to support abortion rights.

Pompeo has also announced a cut in funds to the Organization of American States following evidence of “abortion-related advocacy” by one of its bodies.

In June, officials, activists and business leaders from 165 countries will gather in Vancouver for the Women Deliver conference to accelerate progress on gender equality.

  • Gavin O'Toole, expert on Latin America
    Gavin O'Toole

    A freelance journalist. He has written six books about Latin America and taught the politics of the region at Queen Mary, University of London.

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