GENEVA (AP) — Independent United Nations human rights experts expressed concern Tuesday about the negative impact on the rights of racial and ethnic minorities of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to remove constitutional protections for abortion in the United States and called the Biden administration and state governments to do more to support these rights.
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, an independent expert group that works with the UN human rights office, said it was concerned about higher rates of maternal mortality and morbidity, among a range of concerns about the rights of blacks, Latinos, indigenous peoples peoples, foreign immigrants, and others in the United States.
The calls were made as part of the commission’s regular review of UN member states. The US was among seven countries to be examined this summer. A large delegation of US officials, including Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, traveled to Geneva earlier this month for hearings that informed the panel’s thinking on the rights of ethnic and racial minorities in the US
In its report, the committee presented a range of concerns and assessments – including praise for recent legislation and executive orders to improve minority rights and calling for a “national action plan” to combat systemic racism and racial discrimination and an effort limiting the impact of gun violence on such minorities.
He urged considering new laws or revising existing ones to help combat excessive use of force by law enforcement and called on the US to take “all necessary measures” – including at the federal level – to ensure that all people they can vote. He expressed concerns about increasing new legislation with “disproportionate impacts” on minorities.
While noting some steps taken by the White House to address high maternal mortality rates, he said: “The committee is concerned that systemic racism along with intersecting factors such as gender, race, ethnicity and immigration status have a profound impact on the ability of women and girls to have access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services in the (US) without discrimination.”
The concerns came in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in June to strip women of nearly half a century of constitutional protections for abortion under Roe v. Wade, which paved the way for abortion bans in some states.
The commission, referring to the recent court decision, called on the United States to adopt “all necessary measures” at both the state and federal levels “to address the profoundly disparate impact (of the ruling) on racial and ethnic minority women, indigenous women and those with low incomes” and provide safe, legal access to abortion within the framework of existing US human rights commitments.
He called on the US to ensure that women who seek abortions — or the health care providers who assist them — “are not subject to criminal penalties.”