Trump official claimed US is a 'pro-life nation' in UN meeting: report

Trump official claimed US is a 'pro-life nation' in UN meeting: report
© Greg Nash

Trump administration officials reportedly pushed socially conservative views on sexual education and abortion at a major international meeting on gender equality earlier this year.

In closed-door meetings at the annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, officials from the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Mission to the U.N. discussed abstinence-oriented sexual education and anti-abortion policies, officials present at the meetings told BuzzFeed News.

Bethany Kozma, a USAID adviser on women’s empowerment, reportedly said during a meeting that the U.S. was a “pro-life nation.”

“When she said that there was sort of a record scratch and silence,” one U.N. official told BuzzFeed News on the condition of anonymity. “Everyone was like, ‘are you kidding me?’”

Trump officials reportedly asked for the removal of references to “modern contraception,” “emergency contraception” and “unsafe abortion” from a document on international gender equality, according to BuzzFeed News.

In other meetings at the two-week March series, Trump administration officials pushed abstinence-focused policies and proposed teaching women “sexual refusal skills” as part of an international approach to sex education.

Susan O’Malley, the chair of the Commission on the Status of Women’s nongovernmental organizations board, told BuzzFeed News that one closed-door meeting was “so bonkers" because of Trump officials' stances on the issues discussed.

O’Malley and three other attendees told the outlet that Trump officials repeatedly referred to their agencies as “pro-life.”

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Another delegate criticized HHS official Valerie Huber, telling BuzzFeed News that she pushed a “particularly regressive” stance on sexual education.

“She spoke of, ‘trying to get women to make better choices in the future,’ which is that terrifying and outmoded idea that women make bad sexual choices, and that what happens to them is their fault,” the delegate said.

A Health Department spokesman confirmed to BuzzFeed News that Huber spoke at the session in question, saying that her comments focused on the “challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.”

Other officials said that the Trump administration’s views as displayed at the meetings were further right than the Bush administration, and that other member states united together against U.S. officials on family planning issues.

A USAID official declined to comment on closed-door negotiations to BuzzFeed News, but in a statement praised the U.S.’s commitment to “helping women and children thrive, particularly in countries where the need is greatest.”