U.N. Human-Rights Official: U.S. Abortion Bans Are ‘Extremist Hate’ and ‘Torture’

United Nations headquarters in New York City (Mike Segar/Reuters)

The United Nations deputy high commissioner for human rights on Tuesday called the recent stringent bans on abortion passed in some U.S. states “torture” and “extremist hate” and said they constitute a “crisis directed at women.”

“We have not called it out in the same way we have other forms of extremist hate, but this is gender-based violence against women, no question,” Deputy High Commissioner Kate Gilmore told The Guardian. “It’s clear it’s torture — it’s a deprivation of a right to health.”

“This is a crisis. It’s a crisis directed at women,” she added.

Gilmore, who has served as deputy high commissioner since 2015, said a committee of U.N. experts dedicated to analyzing how countries implement human-rights principles “independently declared the absolute prohibition of abortion . . . is against human rights.”

Mississippi, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota, and Ohio have recently passed bills banning abortions after only a few weeks, and Alabama passed a bill prohibiting the procedure at any point except when the life of the mother is threatened, the most restrictive such ban in the nation.

Pro-life advocates hope court challenges to the unusually strict state laws will eventually reach the Supreme Court, where a new conservative majority will consider overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide.

Gilmore took a shot at conservative organizations campaigning to advance pro-life policies at the U.N., saying their agenda is not based on facts.

“It’s an assault on truth, science, and universal values and norms,” she said. “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.”

“We have to stand with the evidence and facts and in solidarity with women, and in particular young women and minority women who are really under the gun,” Gilmore continued. “This doesn’t affect well-off women in the same way as women with no resources, or able-bodied women the way it affects disabled women, and urban women the way it affects rural women.”

She also called “deeply distressing” the Trump administration’s push in April to remove language on sexual and reproductive health in a resolution on rape, the rationale being that such language promotes abortion.

The UN has been rife with controversy over abortion rights recently. In March, the chairwoman of a U.N. commission forced the adoption of a measure that implicitly promotes abortion over the objections of more than one country.

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