Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Despite statements by USAID gender equality adviser Bethany Kozma at a UN meeting on women's rights, there is brought support in the US for por-choice policies. (Photo: Anne Ruthmann/Flickr/cc)

At UN Commission on Women Rights, Trump Appointee Pushes Reproductive Policies Worse Than Saudi Arabia's

USAID gender equality adviser Bethany Kozma told UN diplomats the US is a "pro-life country," despite broad support for abortion access

Julia Conley

Reproductive rights advocates on Friday denounced reports of an extremist Trump appointee pushing anti-choice policies at the United Nations' annual conference on women's rights.

"Someone who doesn't respect American law and who opposes the principles of gender equality should not be empowered to negotiate on behalf of the U.S. government," Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, told the Independent, which first reported on statements made by Bethany Kozma, a USAID official at the Commission on the Status of Women on Thursday. "The U.S. government must prevent this wildcard from subverting American law in the negotiations."

Kozma, senior adviser in USAID's Office of Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment, told other national delegations at the conference that the U.S. is "a pro-life country," and pushed for the elimination of the term "modern contraceptives" in the meeting's outcome document in order to promote abstinence-only education policies.

One U.N. diplomat called Kozma's stated positions "shocking" and demonstrating a "weaker" policy on reproductive rights than that of Saudi Arabia.

While its record on women's rights has been condemned, contraceptive use is widely accepted in Saudi Arabia and is supported by the government, with nearly 75 percent of women using birth control in one study by the Center for Population Studies at King Saud University.

In the U.S., while states have taken steps to reduce access to abortion care in recent years and members of the Trump administration have expressed extreme anti-choice views, the population is largely in favor of abortion access. A Pew Research Center poll found last year that 57 percent of Americans support abortion rights in most or all cases.

A YouGov poll taken in 2015 found that only 15 percent of Americans believe sex education should include information only on abstinence, while 66 percent said student should be taught about a wide variety of birth control and safety methods. 

"While previous Republican administrations took anti-choice and anti-abortion positions, they were still generally in line with accepted frameworks that recognised the importance and centrality of sexual and reproductive rights," Akila Radhakrishnan, acting president of the Global Justice Center, told the Independent.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Grim and Alarming' UN Report Details 'Catastrophic' Global Failure on Climate

"We are not going in the right direction," warns the head of the World Meteorological Organization.

Andrea Germanos ·


Analysis Shows Facebook Allows 99% of Climate Disinformation to Go Unchecked

The new study coincided with Facebook's new initiative to combat climate lies, which civil society groups criticized as "too little, too late."

Jake Johnson ·


Sanders Says There's 'No Excuse' for Any Democrat to Oppose Lowering Drug Prices

"Now is the time for Congress to show courage and stand up to the greed of the pharmaceutical industry."

Jake Johnson ·


Covid-19 Vaccine Makers Blasted for 'Unconscionable Profits,' Monopolies, and Low Taxes

"Big Pharma's business model—receive billions in public investments, charge exorbitant prices for lifesaving medicines, pay little tax—is gold dust for wealthy investors and corporate executives but devastating for global public health."

Common Dreams staff ·


UN Human Rights Chief Calls for Global Halt to Sales of Dangerous AI Technologies

"The power of AI to serve people is undeniable, but so is AI's ability to feed human rights violations at an enormous scale with virtually no visibility."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo