End the ‘Global Gag Rule’
Nigeria needs to speak up and rethink its strategies on reproductive rights as a matter of urgency
In a move that played out at the United Nations General Assembly in September, US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced that the United States and 18 other states, including Saudi Arabia, Hungary, Iraq, Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Yemen jointly condemned policies that promoted sexual and reproductive rights of women in the UN’s newly adopted Universal Health Coverage Political Declaration.
A joint statement read, in part, “We do not support references to ambiguous terms and expressions, such as sexual and reproductive health and rights in U.N. documents, because they can undermine the critical role of the family and promote practices, like abortion, in circumstances that do not enjoy international consensus and which can be misinterpreted by U.N. agencies.”
Universal health coverage is a global plan backed by the World Health Organization to ensure affordable primary health care in UN member states. Reproductive health is a key indicator for measuring coverage progress. But the United States is dragging its feet on supporting the declaration, complaining about terms because UHC doesn’t exactly suit its agenda.