(PNCI) It’s no surprise that President Joe Biden and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra advanced support for abortion as part of sexual and reproductive health and rights during the G7 but their advocacy for the advance of abortion has gone to a deeper and more dangerous level as abortion was advanced as primary health care (PHC) and part of Universal health coverage (UHC).
Abortion as primary health care and part of Universal health coverage
For background, the World Health Organization (WHO) explains this abortion access tactic in its abortion guidelines, “Universal health coverage (UHC) means ensuring that all people have access to the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, which…does not expose any users to financial hardship.”
“To ensure both access to abortion and achievement of UHC, abortion must be centred within primary health care (PHC), which itself is fully integrated within the health system…Making abortion available and accessible within PHC is a safe and effective strategy to advance equitable access to, and provide an enabling environment for, abortion.”
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The G7 meeting in Hiroshima took major steps toward advancing this scheme. President Biden agreed to the G7 Hiroshima Leaders’ Communiqué which reaffirms “the essential role of UHC in addressing various health challenges significantly set back by the pandemic…such as… realizing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for all…”
The 7 leaders committed “to further promoting comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for all individuals…”
HHS reports that Secretary Becerra attended the G7 health ministerial in Nagasaki and in his remarks “emphasized the urgency of strengthening access to essential health services, including through primary health care, and the urgency of advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights.”
Becerra agreed to the G7 Nagasaki Health Ministers’ Communiqué which promotes access to abortion using the context of COVID-19. It states that “as the world transitions beyond the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic” the achievement of universal health coverage is needed with primary health care as the ‘cornerstone’. The leaders lament that some countries experienced a disruption in essential health services including in sexual and reproductive health.
In the section, Maternal and child health, and comprehensive SRHR, the health leaders commit to “take steps collectively to ensure universal access to comprehensive health services at every stage of life, including maternal and child health and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services for all”. They recommend the “broadest approach to advancing comprehensive SRHR for all” which they state includes addressing access to abortion and SRHR advocacy.
Becerra and the other leaders clearly state their commitment to advance abortion at the primary health care (PHC) level and as UHC:
“As part of these wider efforts to defend and promote SRHR in the face of attempted rollback, we will advocate for the inclusion of the comprehensive SRH services as an essential part of UHC at the PHC level.”
The health ministerial also adopted the G7 Global Plan for UHC Action Agenda which includes committing to seek to accelerate collective action “towards the realization of universal health coverage (UHC)”. Becerra committed to “advocating for and support creating enabling national legislative frameworks that build safe, equitable and resilient health systems that include sexual and reproductive health and rights.”
A key G7 Action to support gender equality in health will “take steps to ensure gender-responsive policies and health services, including universal access to reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights for all”.
The Global Plan makes a cloaked reference to Dobbs and the multilateral pro-life work of the Trump administration: “Given the well-coordinated and funded rollback on gender and rights movement at country and multilateral levels, the G7 will step up our efforts to work together on promoting SRHR and explore ways to assess the impact on sexual and reproductive health services and rights.”
Becerra advances abortion at the World Health Assembly
Becerra also represented the United States at the 76th World Health Assembly, the governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO), where he stated that the U.S. “is proud to be both a strong partner and a leader in global public health” and spoke of “the benefits of building strong health systems based on equity, inclusion, and opportunity”. He qualified the statement by saying, “to build that equitable and inclusive world, we must ensure sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.”
At the same meeting, Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UNPA said during the event, Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR): an essential element to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC), “There can be no universal health coverage—a cornerstone of the sustainable development goals—without sexual and reproductive health and rights!”
Becerra expressed the full support of the U.S. for the WHO stating that it “embodies our shared values and remains vitally important to the global struggle for health and well-being.”
He referenced the controversial pandemic accord/treaty/convention saying, “Together, let’s commit to reaching agreement both on the pandemic accord and targeted amendments to the International Health Regulations in this coming year.”
EU-U.S. Health Task Force will promote abortion
Becerra was busy fulfilling his role as leader of Biden’s Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access and accomplishing its goal to partner with bilateral and multilateral partners to “bolster access to sexual and reproductive healthcare globally.”
Secretary Becerra also met in Brussels with EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, to launch the EU-U.S. Health Task Force to expand the EU-U.S. partnership in the area of health. This includes working together for “the success of the Pandemic Agreement currently under negotiation at the WHO” and for “promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights” for women.
Editor's note: The Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues (PNCI) is a worldwide initiative to advance respect and dignity for life through law and policy. This article was published by the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues and is reprinted with permission.