The United States Agency for International Development is urging the UN to remove references to reproductive health from its Covid-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan. The letter, sent on May 18, 2020 by John Barsa, acting Administrator of UNSAID, addresses UN Secretary General António Guterres, specifically mentions that access to abortions should not be a part of essential healthcare.
“The United States stands with nations that have pledged to protect the unborn…Therefore, I ask that you remove references to ‘sexual and reproductive health,’ and its derivatives from the Global HRP, and drop the provision of abortion as an essential component of the UN’s priorities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic...Most egregious is that the [UN] calls for the widespread distribution of abortion-inducing drugs and abortion supplies, and for the promotion of abortion in local country settings.”
This stance of the Trump Administration has received much criticism.
The International Planned Parenthood Federation’s Director-General Dr Alvaro Bermejo said, “By undermining the global efforts to control this pandemic and attempt to block sexual and reproductive health, this US administration undermines the ability of women and children around the world to live through COVID-19.
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The WHO estimates an increase in social and physical violence against women during the pandemic and the various lockdown measures taken across countries, an estimate that is corroborated by reports from various organisations devoted to women’s safety. This increase in violence is likely to lead to unwanted pregnancies, making access to reproductive healthcare, contraception and abortions vital and even lifesaving.