(PRESS RELEASE) Today the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a second Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of State (DOS) following their ongoing refusal to release records related to their practice of deleting the reproductive rights subsection from DOS’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (HRRs).
The Center filed its initial FOIA lawsuit in September 2018 over the DOS 2017 HRRs, which had omitted vital information on reproductive rights from the annual 195 country reports. Congressional mandate requires DOS to report on “all the available information about observance of and respect for human rights…without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.” DOS has effectively ignored the Center’s first request, leading to the Center’s decision to sue for the information. In addition, Trump administration officials have failed to respond to outcry from civil society and Congress demanding the reinstatement of comprehensive reporting in the 2018 HRRs which are currently being prepared.
“The U.S. State Department’s decision to continue its destructive practice of omitting reporting on reproductive rights from its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices sends a clear message that the United States does not care about the plight of women and girls and is part of a comprehensive effort to erase sexual and reproductive health and rights from global discourse,” said Stephanie L. Schmid, U.S. Foreign Policy Counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights. “This erasure is tantamount to an outright rejection of the basic principle that reproductive rights are human rights,” added Schmid. “The Center will continue to use the power of the law to hold this administration accountable in order to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States promotes, rather than hinders, women and girls’ access to basic health care like contraception, safe abortion, and maternal health care in order for them to achieve economic, social, and political empowerment.”
The Center is being represented by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, who are also serving as counsel in the original FOIA lawsuit.