UN official says restrictive US abortion policies are 'extremist hate'

UN official says restrictive US abortion policies are 'extremist hate'
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The United Nations deputy high commissioner for human rights likened restrictive U.S. policies on abortion to “torture” and a form of “extremist hate.”

Kate Gilmore, in an interview with The Guardian published Tuesday, did not specify which state laws she was referring to, but characterized the U.S. as being in a “crisis.”


“This is a crisis. It’s a crisis directed at women,” she said, adding that tougher measures restricting women’s access to the procedure may soon be coming.

Gilmore said removing women’s access to safe and legal abortions is punitive and a denial of rights.

“It’s clear it’s torture — it’s a deprivation of a right to health,” she said.

Gilmore added that the U.N. committee of experts in charge of monitoring nine core U.N. human rights instruments have made clear that the “absolute prohibition of abortion ... is against human rights.”

Several U.S. states in recent months have passed restrictive abortion laws, with Alabama enacting a near-total ban that is designed to challenge the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that ensured abortion rights nationwide.

Several other states have passed “heartbeat” laws that prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, generally around six to eight weeks into pregnancy.

Gilmore said the recent increase in restrictive abortion laws has come from extremist groups.

“We have not called it out in the same way we have other forms of extremist hate, but this is gender-based violence against women, no question,” she said.

She added that even though rulings from the U.N. Commission on Human Rights have no way of being enforced, they can raise awareness and put pressure on governments to address the issues.

“The human rights system doesn’t have an army, but what we know is many national courts follow that jurisprudence in their own rulings,” Gilmore said. “It builds up a body of law.”