Report on the United States’ Compliance with Its Human Rights Obligations In the Area of Women’s Reproductive and Sexual Health

The United Nations Human Rights Council has introduced a process designed to review countries’ compliance with human rights obligations as contained in (1) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; (2) the United Nations Charter; (3) human rights treaties to which the country is a State Party; (4) voluntary pledges and commitments made by the country; and (5) international humanitarian law. Countries submit reports on their compliance and engage with the Human Rights Council at multiple sessions. The United States, as a new member of the Human Rights Council, underwent this process – the Universal Periodic Review – for the first time in the winter of 2010-2011. NGOs and other stakeholders participated in the U.S.’s UPR process by submitting shadow reports and lobbying members of the Human Rights Council to raise questions about specific human rights issues at the sessions. Additionally, NGOs and other stakeholders raised concerns with the U.S. State Department directly at “consultations” in cities around the country.

On April 16, the Center submitted a report together with several sister organizations on the topic of reproductive rights. This report focuses on three areas of reproductive rights that treaty monitoring bodies have identified as issues of human rights concern: (1) pervasive racial disparities in reproductive and sexual health; (2) obstacles to women’s access to safe, legal abortion; and (3) the practice of shackling incarcerated pregnant women. In doing so, the report emphasizes that a woman’s right to make fundamental decisions about her life and her family, her right to access reproductive health services and her ability to decide when and whether to have children are based on a number of fundamental human rights.

Center Attorneys: Michelle Movahed, Cindy Soohoo