The devolving status of reproductive rights in the United States has not escaped the notice of the international community.
The committee members, who are appointed by UN member states, wrote that the decision has had “a profound disparate impact on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of racial and ethnic minorities.”
They also raised concerns about the alarming rate of Black and Indigenous maternal mortality in the United States and the growing body of evidence that abortion bans will only exacerbate the crisis.
“The committee was deeply concerned about the disparate impact on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of racial and ethnic minorities, particularly those with low income,” said committee member Pansy Tlakula, according to the Associated Press. “It recommended that the state party should take further steps to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in sexual and reproductive health and rights.”
Dr. Christine Ryan, legal director at the Global Justice Center, an international human rights organization, says that although the committee doesn’t have any enforcement power over racial discrimination, the report still has massive significance internationally and in the US.
“It’s extremely rare for [this] committee to discuss reproductive rights, let alone find that abortion restrictions are a form of racial discrimination,” says Ryan. “And it’s the first time they did that.”
Ryan says the committee’s report helps human rights advocates lay the groundwork for framing abortion as an issue of racial discrimination in addition to gender discrimination
“The committee has made clear that addressing abortion restrictions is one of their obligations under international human rights law,” she says. “So it’s significant in terms of precedent both internationally and for the US.”
Most of all, Ryan says it puts the United States on notice.
“The United States at present is really out of step with the rest of the world and trends in terms of abortion rights,” says Ryan. “And it should be met with international condemnation without the ability to exempt itself as a western state that’s beyond reproach.”