WMC News & Features

'US is a pro-life nation,' says Trump appointee at UN meeting

Kozma Wmc News 3 22 18
Bethany Kozma recently called the U.S. a "pro-life nation," which it is not correct either popularly or in legal terms. (YouTube)

At a recent closed-door meeting, Bethany Kozma stood before a roomful of international leaders assembled to discuss gender equality and women’s rights and announced that the “U.S. is a pro-life nation,” Newsweek reports. Kozma is the senior adviser for the Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The convening was the annual U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York, from March 12-23, at which global leaders gather to assess the progress of various programs developed to further the rights of women and gender equality, and create a negotiated document for next steps. 

Kozma’s statement on abortion, however, is not correct either factually or legally.  

Kozma is an established anti-transgender and anti-choice activist. At the meeting, she requested that the final negotiated document exclude any reference to the phrase “modern contraceptives,” the UK Independent reports, and asked that the phrase be replaced with “family planning” as a means of furthering an abstinence-only agenda. USAID provides development assistance—including family planning—around the world.  

At this point in President Donald Trump’s tenure, it may not come as a surprise that the administration appointed a woman who once equated transgender students with “predators” to represent the country’s stance on gender equality. But Kozma’s staunch anti-choice comments at CSW also embody the administration’s continued erosion of America’s standing in the world when it comes to reproductive rights.  

“This is a part of the U.S.’ loss of leadership at the international level,” says Akila Radhakrishnan, acting president of the New York-based Global Justice Center. “This administration is placing unqualified ideologues as representatives of the U.S. These are not people who have experience in diplomatic negotiations or in these complex subject areas.”  

While the document produced by the CSW is not legally binding, there is still cause for concern. Kozma’s comments suggest that sexual and reproductive rights should not fall under the umbrella of women’s rights, and lend legitimacy to other countries with extreme-right viewpoints.  

In using a national stage to make these comments, Radhakrishnan says, the administration is trying to erase issues that are considered fundamental to human rights.

More articles by Category: Health, Politics
More articles by Tag: Reproductive rights, Abortion



Sign up for our Newsletter

Learn more about topics like these by signing up for Women’s Media Center’s newsletter.