UN Commissioner Says U.S. Abortion Laws Are 'Torture'

UN Commissioner Says U.S. Abortion Laws Are 'Torture'
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Kate Gilmore, the United Nations’ High Deputy Commissioner on Human Rights, recently spoke to the Guardian and cut through bullshit talking points about abortion bans, referring to the recent slew of anti-abortion laws in the U.S. as what it really is: a “crisis” perpetuated by extremist groups who hate women. “We have not called it out in the same way we have other forms of extremist hate,” Gilmore told the Guardian, “but this is gender-based violence against women, no question.”

States like Georgia and Ohio have effectively banned abortion by making it illegal to obtain an abortion after a so-called “fetal heartbeat” can be detected, often before a person knows they are pregnant; in May, Alabama state lawmakers passed a bill banning abortion from the moment of conception. Yet the term “fetal heartbeat” is misleading because, at six weeks, there is no heart—only cardiac activity. That the term has been embraced in media coverage is a reminder of how effectively the anti-abortion movement sets the terms of the debate, and Gilmore’s comments are a reminder of what’s actually at stake. “It’s clear it’s torture—it’s a deprivation of a right to health,” Gilmore said.

The Guardian also notes that, last week, Gilmore called out conservative Christian groups in the U.S. who are pushing for abortion bans and carrying out this attack on the right to choose. “It’s an assault on truth, science and universal values and norms,” she said.

Gilmore also called for more nuanced conversation around how rolling back abortion access affects women of different means differently—something else doesn’t get discussed enough in the abortion access debate:

“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. 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,” said Gilmore.

It’s a point that cannot be emphasized enough: Criminalizing abortion means that women will still get abortions, they’ll just be unsafe ones, and poor women and women of color will suffer disproportionately. Read Gilmore’s full interview here.

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