UN experts warn of impact of abortion bans on US minorities

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GENEVA (AP) — Independent U.N. human rights experts expressed concerns Tuesday about the adverse impact on the rights of racial and ethnic minorities from the U.S. Supreme Court decision that stripped away constitutional protections for abortion in the United States, and called on the Biden administration and state governments to do more to buttress those rights.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a group of independent experts who work with the U.N. human rights office, said it was concerned about higher rates of maternal mortality and morbidity, among a host of concerns about the rights of Blacks, Latinos, Indigenous peoples, foreign-born migrants and others in the United States.

The calls came as part of a regular review of U.N. member states by the committee. The U.S. was among seven countries to be considered this summer. A large delegation of U.S. officials, including Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, traveled to Geneva earlier this month for hearings that fed into the committee’s thinking about the rights of ethnic and racial minorities in the U.S.

In its report, the committee ran the gamut of concerns and assessments — including praise for recent legislation and executive orders to improve the rights of minorities, and calls for a “national action plan” to combat systemic racism and racial discrimination and an effort to limit the impact of gun violence on such minorities.

It urged consideration of new laws or a review of existing ones to help fight excessive use of force by law enforcement, and called on the U.S. to adopt “all necessary measures” — including at the federal level — to ensure that all people can vote. It expressed concerns about an increase in new legislation with a “disproportionate impact” on minorities.

While noting some steps by the White House to address high maternal mortality rates, it said: “the committee is concerned that systemic racism along with intersecting factors such as gender, race, ethnicity and migration status have a profound impact on the ability of women and girls to access the full range of sexual and reproductive health services in (the U.S.) without discrimination.”

The concerns came in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in June to strip away women’s constitutional protections for abortion that had been enshrined for nearly a half-century under Roe v. Wade, which paved the way for abortion bans in some states.

The committee, referring to the recent court decision, called on the United States to adopt “all necessary measures” at both state and federal level “to address the profound disparate impact of (the decision) on women of racial and ethnic minorities, Indigenous women and those with low incomes,” and provide safe, legal access to abortion under existing U.S. commitments to human rights.

It called on the U.S. to ensure that women seeking an abortion — or the health care providers who assist them — “are not subjected to criminal penalties.”



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