Wyden, Merkley Join Colleagues to Reintroduce Reproductive Rights

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley said today they have reintroduced the Reproductive Rights are Human Rights Act, which would direct the State Department to report on the status of reproductive rights in United Nations member states and countries receiving U.S. foreign aid in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (Human Rights Reports).

“Human rights include the right to reproductive choice. Reproductive freedom is fundamental to ensuring gender and LGBTQ+ equity are the norm, not just lofty ideals,” Wyden said. “The United States has an obligation to ensure women and members of the LGBTQ+ community across the globe have access to quality reproductive healthcare in the communities they call home. Achieving that target starts by ensuring the State Department reports accurate, detailed data on the state of reproductive rights everywhere, which this bill would codify into black letter law no matter the inclinations of future administrations.”

“Every human being deserves the right to make medical decisions about their own body, and to access the care they need—including reproductive care—to live the life they want to lead,” said Merkley, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “It’s critical that the United States uses its influence around the world for good, and works to protect that crucial access. Any mission to achieve that goal must include undoing the Trump administration’s dangerous decision to stop collecting and reporting data about reproductive freedom around the world.”

As required by the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Trade Act of 1974, the Secretary of State reports annually to Congress on the status of human rights in each country receiving U.S. foreign aid, as well as in each United Nations member state. Congress and the private sector rely upon these reports when considering appropriations requests and making advocacy, planning and policy decisions.

The Trump administration’s harmful elimination of reproductive rights from the Human Rights Reports initially prompted the introduction of the Reproductive Rights are Human Rights Act in the 116th Congress. In response to Congressional and civil society efforts, the Biden administration reinstated reporting in March of 2021. Reintroduced today, the Reproductive Rights are Human Rights Act will ensure that this reporting continues.

For the 117th Congress, the bill has been updated to reflect current human rights standards, and now requires reporting on:

•                Equitable access to abortion, contraception, quality maternal health care and the rates and causes of maternal deaths.

•                Disaggregated maternal health data to better understand disparities in pregnancy-related outcomes, especially for low-income and marginalized communities.

•                Data on other forms of reproductive coercion, in addition to coerced abortion and involuntary sterilization.

Forty-five outside organizations also endorsed the legislation including American Jewish World Service, Amnesty International USA, Catholics for Choice, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Reproductive Rights, CHANGE (Center for Health and Gender Equity), Council for Global Equality, Global Health Council, Global Justice Center, Guttmacher Institute, Heartland Alliance International, Human Rights Campaign, Ibis Reproductive Health, If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), International Women’s Health Coalition, Ipas, Jewish Women International, John Snow, Inc. (JSI), Management Sciences for Health, MPact: Global Action for Gay Health & Rights, MSI Reproductive Choices, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), National Birth Equity Collaborative, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Organization for Women, National Women’s Health Network, Oxfam America, PAI, Pathfinder International, People For the American Way, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Population Connection Action Fund, Population Institute, Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, University of Miami School of Law Human Rights Clinic, Women Deliver, Women’s Refugee Commission and Woodhull Freedom Foundation.

Joining Wyden and Merkley on the bill, led by Senator Bob Menendez, D-N.J., were U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Tim Kaine, D-Va., Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, Chris Coons, D-Del., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Ed Markey, D-Mass., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. Representative Katherine Clark, D-Mass., introduced the bill in the House today as well.

A copy of the bill text is here.

A web version of this release is here.