UN slams GOP's radical war on health care as 'torture'


A top U.N. official said that the Republican Party's war on abortion rights is 'gender-based violence against women.'

Just this year, six Republican-led states have passed draconian, near-total bans on abortion — and those efforts amount to pushing "torture" for women who want or need to safely end a pregnancy, according to a top United Nations human rights official.

Kate Gilmore, the United Nations deputy high commissioner for human rights, told the Guardian on Tuesday that the GOP's efforts to restrict abortion in the U.S. are a violation of human rights and a "crisis directed at women."

"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," Gilmore told the Guardian.

"It’s clear it’s torture — it’s a deprivation of a right to health," she said, adding that the U.N. has "declared the absolute prohibition of abortion … is against human rights."

According to a 2013 report from the United Nations' Human Rights Council, "the Committee against Torture has repeatedly expressed concerns about restrictions on access to abortion and about absolute bans on abortion as violating the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment." Denying women medical services such as abortion, the report notes, can cause "tremendous and lasting physical and emotional suffering, inflicted on the basis of gender."

The American conservative movement's fight to ban abortion — and, by doing so, punish women and the doctors who care for them — is "an assault on truth, science and universal values and norms," Gilmore said.

A common anti-choice tactic for Republicans these days is to spread lies about later abortions, falsely claiming that they are the same as "infanticide" or that Democrats want to legalize infanticide. Republicans are doing this in an attempt to convince Americans — the vast majority of whom support the right to safe, legal abortion — that the procedure should be banned.

But some GOP-led states have gone as far as banning abortion entirely. Alabama bans abortion at any stage of pregnancy, even in the case of rape and incest, and subjects health care providers who perform the procedure to 99 years in prison. States like Georgia have banned abortion after six weeks, before most women know they're pregnant. Georgia's law in particular would allow women who have miscarriages to be criminally prosecuted if they are suspected of having an illegal abortion.

The state legislatures know these laws violate Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case that guarantees women the right to an abortion.

Yet they hope that the cases make their way up to the Supreme Court, where they believe the conservative majority that includes two anti-choice Trump appointees will overturn the precedent and allow states to ban abortion outright.

Gilmore said that while the U.N. doesn't have an enforcement mechanism against countries that ban abortion, she said that the U.N. can place pressure on lawmakers who are trying to ban the procedure.

"We have to stand with the evidence and facts and in solidarity with women," Gilmore told the Guardian.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.