(CNSNews.com) – President Trump used his address at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday to send a strong pro-life message, telling the world body that “global bureaucrats have absolutely no business attacking the sovereignty of nations that wish to protect innocent life.”
His words came a day after the United States joined 18 other nations in New York calling on the international community not to insert language into U.N. documents that can be misinterpreted as supporting a “right” to abortion.
The references to protecting the unborn came during a portion of Trump’s speech defending U.S. stances on issues ranging from the right to bear arms to respecting religious freedom, and from opposition to the criminalization of homosexuality to championing the economic development of women.
Americans, he said, will “never tire of defending innocent life.”
“We are aware that many United Nations projects have attempted to assert a global right to taxpayer-funded abortion on demand, right up until the moment of delivery,” Trump said.
“Global bureaucrats have absolutely no business attacking the sovereignty of nations that wish to protect innocent life,” he added. “Like many nations here today we in America believe that every child born and unborn is a sacred gift from God.”
On Tuesday, the U.S. and 18 other countries, together accounting for more than 1.3 billion people, presented the U.N. with a statement objecting to the use in U.N. documents of vague terminology often cited to promote abortion around the world.
They did so shortly before the U.N. held a high-level meeting focused on the goal of providing universal health coverage globally by 2030.
Commending the U.N. on the priority being given to expanding access to health care, the joint statement appealed to all member-states to focus on “topics that unite rather than divide on the critical issues surrounding access to health care.”
“We do not support references to ambiguous terms and expressions, such as ‘sexual and reproductive health and rights’ in U.N. documents, because they can undermine the critical role of the family and promote practices, like abortion, in circumstances that do not enjoy international consensus and which can be misinterpreted by U.N. agencies,” it said.
“There is no international right to an abortion and these terms should not be used to promote pro-abortion policies and measures,” the document said, adding that the signatory nations also “only support sex education that appreciates the protective role of the family in this education and does not condone harmful sexual risks for young people.”
The countries argued that only language that has been documented by all U.N. member-states should be cited in U.N. resolutions.
The joint statement was released by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, together with counterparts from Brazil, Poland, Hungary, Iraq, Guatemala and Haiti.
The signatories included conservative Islamic states and countries with large Catholic populations in Latin America, Central Europe and Africa.
Later on Monday, the General Assembly endorsed a pre-drafted 11-page “political declaration on universal health coverage” which included a pledge to ensure, by 2030, “universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights in accordance with the program of action of the International Conference on Population Development [in Cairo] and the Beijing platform for action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.”
Welcoming the declaration, the Alliance for Gender Equality and Universal Health Coverage, representing more than 100 organizations from almost 50 countries, fretted about fact it had not been reached without “tense debate.”
“Sexual and reproductive health and rights were repeatedly contested by conservative governments, who sought to limit commitments to gender equality, human rights, and sexual and reproductive health,” the alliance said.
“These attempts continue the worrying trend of push back on longstanding international commitments to women’s health and rights, particularly sexual and reproductive health and rights.”
The documents cited in the “political declaration” were adopted at major U.N. conferences in Cairo in 1994 and in Beijing in 1995. They have given rise over the years since to hot disputes between those like the U.S. government which argue they did not establish a “right” to abortion, and pro-abortion advocacy groups which assert that the term “reproductive rights” does include abortion.
Armed with those documents, advocacy group have sought to pressurize some governments to amend or throw out abortion laws, while GOP administrations in the U.S. have been accused of trying to “roll back women’s rights” when they oppose the ambiguous language in U.N. documents.
The Trump State Department has removed from its annual global human rights report references to “reproductive rights” – because, officials said, some activists were claiming that the term does include the right to an abortion.
Shortly after taking office President Trump reinstated, and later strengthened, a Reagan-era policy that prohibits federal funding for organizations that promote or perform abortions abroad, or that give money to other groups that promote or perform abortions.
Trump also defunded the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), over reported links to China’s coercive birth-limitation policies.