U.S. Human Rights at the U.N.


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The United States government, like all nations that have ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), must periodically report to the U.N. Human Rights Committee. To assist the Committee in its review of the United States, the Center submitted a shadow report on the status of women’s human rights in the U.S.. We reported on several key reproductive rights issues and our groundbreaking human rights report, Nuestra Voz, Nuestra Salud, Nuestro Texas: The Fight for Women’s Reproductive Health in the Rio Grande Valley, was a cornerstone of our input.

U.S. representatives appear for the Committee’s review on March 13 and 14 in Geneva.

In the lead up to the U.S. government’s review, the Center’s shadow report focused on three key reproductive rights issues the U.S. government did not adequately or comprehensively address in its Fourth Periodic Report to the Committee:

  • First, the shadow report condemned the use of restraints on pregnant women in state detention—its disproportionate impact on women of color, shackled women’s lack of access to justice, and the fact that it’s been recognized internationally as a form of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.
  • Second, the report focused on the recent wave of restrictive state abortion laws enacted throughout the country—since the beginning of 2011, state legislators have enacted 205 restrictions on women’s rights to a safe and legal abortion.
  • Finally, the report discussed federal and state policy discrimination against immigrant women in accessing affordable reproductive healthcare. 

In support of its shadow letter, the Center submitted a copy of Nuestra Voz, Nuestra Salud, Nuestro Texas: The Fight for Women’s Reproductive Health in the Rio Grande Valley to better illustrate the discrimination immigrant women face in accessing affordable reproductive health care. (Click here for a full description and links to the Center’s and the U.S. government’s submissions to the Committee.)

U.S. federal and state policies and practices violate fundamental human rights enumerated in the ICCPR and other core human rights treaties, namely the rights to life, health, non-discrimination, equality, privacy, information, education, and freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

Using examples of women throughout the country, the Center’s shadow report shows how women from rural North Dakota to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas are fighting to exercise their reproductive rights, which are firmly grounded in the U.S. Constitution and the ICCPR. This report and the upcoming review of the U.S. opens the door to accountability and, one hopes, meaningful change.