Internal memos obtained by news outlet Foreign Policy at the end of October reveal that the State Department may be pushing to change official reproductive health terms. The memos contain a proposal allegedly passed on to Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, by conservative appointees; they’re asking the government to switch out terms like, “sexual and reproductive health” and “comprehensive sexuality education.”
• Although it isn’t yet clear exactly changing such terms would impact services and government documents, the shift would most likely lead to significantly more conservative sexual education curriculums in publicly-funded schools. It would also impact U.S. Diplomats working on foreign or domestic soil.
• Spearheaded by Mari Stull, Bethany Kozma, and a shortlist of other hard-right political appointees at the State Department, the proposal seeks to bring language more in line with Republican values. However, opponents believe it will lead to problems in negotiations with the United Nations, non-governmental health groups funded by the government and international aid organizations.
• The proposal is essentially an attempt to abandon the use of the word “sex” itself at its core; instead, it suggests returning to more conservative language. The Trump administration has systematically worked to reduce focus on such matters to bring them back to a place of family values, especially with regard to abortion.
• Pompeo has yet to approve the proposal, and hasn’t yet shared his thoughts on it, but we do have a few details. What we know this far is that it suggests changing out both “sexual and reproductive health” and “comprehensive sexuality education” to much tamer phrases – like “reproduction and the related health services.”
• It is also claimed that, should the change be approved, it will alter the definition of services by clearly defining what falls under the term, “reproduction and the related health services.” This could actually make it easier for Americans to understand available services, especially when they are state-funded.
• The move may seem unusual, but it falls in line with Trump’s efforts since first stepping into office. The President’s first and most contentious move in this area was in fact an attempt to resurrect the Mexico City policy, which originally barred aid groups from promoting abortion on foreign soil. It was removed before Trump came into office after human rights complaints from the Left.
• As for why they chose Pompeo to receive the proposal, it probably has something to do with the fact that he’s a bit of an anti-abortion activist and anti-gay marriage activist himself. For nearly seven years, he was an outspoken supporter of the traditional American family, criticizing abortion and LGBTQ protections and co-sponsoring legislation to roll those protections back.
• In fact, Pompeo himself revealed that his mindset hasn’t changed at his commencement in early April 2018. “When I was a politician,” he said, “I had a very clear view on whether it was appropriate for two same-sex persons to marry. I stand by that.”