The United States on Thursday signed an anti-abortion declaration with more than 30 countries representing more than 1.6 billion people.
Overnight, women in Poland took to the streets to protest against the repression of abortion rights in that country.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Health Alex Azar participated in a virtual signing ceremony of the “Geneva Consensus Statement”. Egypt, Uganda, Brazil, Hungary and Indonesia co-sponsored the pact with the United States. Thirty-two countries have signed it.
The non-binding statement says it seeks to improve women’s health, preserve human life and strengthen the family unit.
“We, the representatives of our sovereign nations, hereby declare, in mutual friendship and respect, our commitment to work together to: Reaffirm that there is no international right to abortion,” reads. one in the statement.
“Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States has stood up for the dignity of human life everywhere and always,” Pompeo said in his remarks upon signing. “We have also mounted an unprecedented defense of unborn children abroad. “
Abortion wakes up conservative voters in every election and has taken hold in recent weeks with President Donald Trump’s appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to replace liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. Democrats grilled her on abortion amid fears the landmark Roe v. Wade will only be canceled if confirmed.
After the announcement of the signing of the Geneva Consensus Statement, Senator Ben Cardin, D-Md., Member of the Senate External Relations Committee, said he was “disturbed” by the announcement and feared that the actions of the United States do not “infringe” on the rights of millions of people.
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“The Geneva Consensus Declaration attempts to undermine fundamental agreements on human rights and women’s health and reproductive rights here at home and around the world,” Cardin said in a statement. “Fortunately, same-sex marriage and abortion remain legal in the United States. “
In the Polish capital, Warsaw, crowds protested after that country’s Constitutional Court ruled that abortion due to fetal abnormalities was unconstitutional. Poland is now also a signatory to the Geneva Consensus Declaration.
The Polish court ruling banned one of the few remaining legal grounds available to terminate a pregnancy in the largely Catholic country. Once the decision takes effect, it will mean that abortion will only be allowed in Poland in cases of rape, incest or threat to the health and life of the mother.
“We mourn the loss of access for Polish women to abortion care,” said Irene Donadio of the European network of the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
The reproductive health and rights group also condemned the Geneva Consensus Declaration as “a wacky Trump-led document with no legal basis” and said the pledge was signed by “reproductive bullies” and ” regressive governments around the world ”.
Hundreds of people marched overnight to the house of the leader of the ruling Polish party Jaroslaw Kaczynski, some carrying candles and signs bearing the words “torture”.
the Warsaw police said on Twitter Friday that 15 people had been arrested. Officers reacted with pepper spray and physical force after protesters threw stones and attempted to cross police lines, they added.
Conservative values have played a growing role in public life in Poland since the nationalist Law and Justice Party came to power five years ago on a promise to uphold the traditional and Catholic character of the nation.
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic said it was “a sad day” for women’s rights.
“Removing the basis of almost all legal abortions in Poland amounts to a ban and violates human rights,” Mijatovic said on Twitter. “Today’s Constitutional Court ruling means clandestine / overseas abortions for those who can afford it and even greater hardship for everyone else. “
Women’s rights and opposition groups called for more protests on Friday.
Reuters contributed to this report.