A new report on the Trump Administration’s efforts to limit women’s access to reproductive health care through regulatory changes to the Title X Family Planning program was released by the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice and the Global Justice Center this month. The report, drafted by Fordham Law School students at the Leitner Center and supervised by Center faculty and staff, analyzes these changes against the United States’ international law obligations and reveals numerous ways in which the changes violate international law.
Title X was enacted during the Nixon Administration to provide family-planning services and reproductive health care for low-income women in the United States. Reproducing Patriarchy documents the Trump Administration’s regulatory changes to the program that will reduce both access to reproductive healthcare and the quality of care low-income women receive at Title X clinics. Particular vulnerable populations who have historically accessed the Title X clinics at disproportionately high rates, including women of color, non-English speakers, women living in rural areas, people with disabilities, LGBTQ individuals and young people will be especially harmed by the Final Rule regulatory changes. While the Final Rule appears to violate U.S. statutory laws and constitutional protections, the domestic cases challenging the Final Rule are pending and the outcome of these challenges is unclear.
Irrespective of the outcome of the domestic legal challenges, the Final Rule violates numerous rights protected by international human rights treaty law binding on the United States including the rights to life, privacy, to be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, freedoms of speech and association, and equality and nondiscrimination in these rights and the right to health pursuant to the ICCPR, CERD and CAT. Moreover, under CERD, laws and regulations that appear facially neutral but have a disproportionately harmful impact on certain racial groups are discriminatory and must be nullified. As documented in the report, the Final Rule reduces access to reproductive health care and negatively impacts the quality of care offered at Title X clinics, which disproportionately serve people of color.
Reproducing Patriarchy concludes that, in order to comply with its international legal obligations, the US must revoke the Trump Administration’s regulatory changes to Title X and implement measures to eliminate gender and racial disparities in access to and quality of reproductive health care.