State Department Fails to Report on Reproductive Rights in Over 200 Countries for the Second Year in a Row

Washington D.C. (Press Release) The Center for Reproductive Rights strongly condemns the US State Department’s decision to eliminate reporting on women’s reproductive health and rights from its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released Washington D.C. (Press Release) The Center for Reproductive Rights strongly condemns the US State Department’s decision to eliminate reporting on women’s reproductive health and rights from its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released today. This is the second year in a row that the State Department has failed to include vital information on reproductive rights in the over 200 countries covered in the reports.  

“The U.S. State Department’s decision to continue its destructive practice of omitting reporting on reproductive rights from its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices sends a clear message that the United States does not care about the plight of women and girls and is part of a comprehensive effort to erase sexual and reproductive health and rights from global discourse,” said Stephanie L. Schmid, U.S. Foreign Policy Counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights.  “This erasure is a blatant and unapologetic rejection of the basic principle that reproductive rights are human rights.”

Last June, The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking information about the last-minute deletion of reproductive rights sections from the 2017 Human Rights Reports. The State Department failed to respond to the request, so the Center sued the State Department to obtain the deleted information. In October, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a second FOIA request seeking information about the preparation of the 2018 Human Rights Reports without reproductive rights included again. The State Department also ignored that request, so a second lawsuit was filed against them in December.  The State Department responded by sending heavily redacted documents which failed to provide the requested information. 

Earlier this month, the Reproductive Rights Are Human Rights Act (H.R. 1581/S. 707) was introduced in the House and Senate with support from more than 150 Members of Congress.  This legislation would require the State Department to include reproductive rights in all future country reports.  The Center for Reproductive Rights, along with 92 partner organizations, was proud to endorse and support the introduction of this very important bill.   

The Center for Reproductive Rights has been instrumental in ensuring that previous reports recognized reproductive rights issues, as well as in providing research on the impact of laws restricting access to reproductive health care around the world. The new reports eliminate passages from previous reports explicitly recognizing that individuals “have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children; manage their reproductive health and have access to the information and means to do so.”  There also are no mentions of the availability of contraception, rates of maternal mortality, or restrictions on safe and legal abortion.