United States diplomats may soon be prohibited from saying phrases like ‘sexual and reproductive health’ and ‘comprehensive sexuality education’ under a new proposal.
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Politico reports that four people familiar with the State Department have seen this proposal suggested to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The proposal is being pushed by numerous conservative political appointees at the State Department and in other government agencies.
These phrases have been used for years in both domestic and international communications. It is unclear at this time what direct policy changes will come from eliminating such words.
However, changing these phrases could put the United States in a contentious position with the United Nations. This is because they would be changing globally-accepted language in agreements and resolutions. Additionally, it could cause issues for non-government groups that receive US funding and use those terms.
Still, removing the word ‘sex’ is a symbolic gesture that aligns with Trump’s other proposals. For instance, eliminating funds for women’s reproductive health, particularly abortion and Planned Parenthood.
According to Politico’s sources, this new proposal is in a memo that is awaiting Pompeo’s approval.
Foreign Policy reported some of what the memo contains.
Instead of ‘sexual and reproductive health’ or ‘comprehensive sexuality education,’ officials will be instructed to use terms such as ‘reproduction and the related health services’ in their correspondence.
These alternate terms are expected to come with definitions and an explanation of what services they cover.
According to the memos obtained by Foreign Policy, the State Department objects to the aforementioned terms as they ‘promote abortions and normalize sexual activity for young people.’
Why it matters
‘This is not a symbolic gesture,’ Beirne Roose-Snyder, director of public policy at the Center for Health and Gender Equity, told Foreign Policy.
‘It is a real harm to the health and rights of individuals, families, and communities. And undermines the prevention and treatment of HIV as well as the avoidance of maternal deaths and unwanted pregnancies.’