By Jamil Chade @jamilchade - The Geneva Observer
February 2, 2020
You may remember it; we called it "Orwellian" in name when it was announced, as it was nor Genevan and all but consensual. Last October, on the initiative of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the U.S. signed the "Geneva Consensus Declaration," essentially a forceful anti-abortion declaration, with a coalition of mostly authoritarian governments. Well, count us out, said Joe Biden.
Less than a week after taking office, in a memorandum on "protecting women's health at home and abroad" sent to his new Secretary of State and other departments, the new U.S. president explicitly distanced his administration from the initiative.
"The Secretary of State and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in a timely and appropriate manner, shall withdraw co-sponsorship and signature from the Geneva Consensus Declaration and notify other co-sponsors and signatories to the Declaration and other appropriate parties of the United States' withdrawal", the memorandum reads.
So, orphaned from its main sponsor, is the Geneva Consensus dead?
Officially yes, but the fight will nevertheless go on if one believes Valerie Huber's farewell email sent to staff and partners obtained by The G|O. Special Representative for Global Women's Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Trump administration, Huber, - an abstinence-only activist - is one of the most ideologically driven opponent of women's reproductive rights, and was a central figure in shaping the language of the Geneva Consensus Declaration as the Washington Post reported back in 2019.
"I sincerely appreciate your support of the Geneva Consensus Declaration and the key priorities enshrined in that document. I hope you will support countries that signed the Declaration and also urge additional countries to sign on", she wrote.
"I am happy to announce that Brazil graciously offered to now serve as the coordinator of this historic coalition. Countries that wish to join the Declaration can do so by contacting the Brazilian Embassy to the U.S. for further details", Huber explains.
Attached to her email is a long list of documents and links meant to provide arguments and resources to ensure the survival of the initiative. It includes "contact information of NGOs around the world who agreed to share those details with this like-minded global community, contacts of friends of the GCD as well as talking points describing the importance of this historic Declaration, documents that detail how the World Health Organization & the U.N. are reinterpreting terms to promote abortion in their policies and programs. "This historic coalition must remain strong!", she concludes.
Biden's decision to withdraw from the coalition was part of a broader set of decisions, most-notably rescinding the so-called "global gag rule", a Reagan-era policy that prevented U.S. foreign aid to organizations around the world from providing abortion services and counseling. It had been suspended under the Democrats administration but reinstated and expanded by Donald Trump on his first day in office in 2017.