Newly Released Report Card Gives White House, Department of Health & Human Services Failing Scores in Meeting Global Commitments to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, October 1, 2020

CONTACT: Madison Donzis | [email protected] | 210-488-6220

Newly Released Report Card Gives White House, Department of Health & Human Services Failing Scores in Meeting Global Commitments to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

CHANGE’s Annual Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Index Grades U.S. Government’s Global Health Commitments on a Composite of Health and Rights Issues

** SEE THE SRHR INDEX HERE: SRHRindex.SRHRforAll.org**

Today, CHANGE, a U.S.-based sexual and reproductive health and rights organization, launched its 2019 grades for the annual Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Index: Grading U.S. Global Health Assistance. CHANGE’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Index (SRHR Index) critically assesses the U.S. government’s global health policies, actions, and funding that impact sexual and reproductive health and rights, and measures its performance by grading it annually. 

The SRHR Index found that across multiple U.S. government agencies and actors, the United States is failing to live up to its commitments to promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights across global health assistance. For the overall U.S. government, 2019 was the third straight year of declining scores.

SEE THE SRHR INDEX HERE: www.srhrindex.srhrforall.org 

This year, the U.S. government’s overall SRHR grade fell from a C in 2018 to a C- in 2019, with the White House falling to a D, and HHS falling to D-. Since CHANGE began releasing annual grades in 2016, the U.S. government’s overall SRHR grade was at its highest in 2016 (B), and has decreased consistently since Trump took office thus far (2017-2019) with its lowest grade of a C- in 2019. The White House’s grades dropped further in 2019 because of the Trump administration’s refusal to include health and, specifically, sexual and reproductive health, in the policies it issued in 2019 that were women-focused, including the U.S. Global Health Security Strategy and the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security. 

The White House’s grade also dramatically fell due to the administration’s disregard for and defunding of key multilateral institutions like UNICEF, UN Women and UNFPA. Further, Alex Azar, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, refused to use or recognize human rights-based terms such as “sexual and reproductive health and rights” or “sexual rights” and deliberately excluded family structures that do not fit into their agenda, such as those of the LGTBQIA+ community, in statements at numerous international fora in 2019.

“The current administration has gone on long enough pursuing its brazenly anti-woman agenda—one that prioritizes power and control over support and security for the people who need it most,” said Serra Sippel, President of CHANGE. “This administration consistently attacks decades of progress in sexual and reproductive health and gender equality with policies like the expanded Global Gag Rule, undermining people and communities across the globe at every turn. The United States government is quite literally failing to live up to its promise at the expense of the lives and wellbeing of women and children around the world, which is why its grade has dropped once again—for the third year in a row.”

Developed in partnership with the Global Women’s Institute at George Washington University, the SRHR Index grades the White House and Congress, as well as USAID, Department of State, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Defense. It uses standardized indicators to assess these actors’ policies, investments, and actions across three domains of sexual and reproductive health and rights—family planning (FP), maternal and child health (MCH), and HIV and AIDS—based on the extent to which it is gender transformative, responsive to need, based in evidence, and consistent with internationally recognized human rights principles. Scores are assigned to each policy and budget-related action taken by specific actors (within their scope of power).

The U.S. government receives an overall grade for each domain and a final composite grade for sexual and reproductive health and rights in U.S. global health assistance. The SRHR Index also measures the availability of data needed to assign a grade. Known as the transparency grade, it represents the expectation that the federal government should make data about U.S. global health assistance available, accessible, and informative. 

“Our annual SRHR Index is designed to meticulously uncover, reveal and make public all of the implications on sexual and reproductive health and rights by U.S.’ global health assistance—positive and negative,” Bergen Cooper, Director of Policy Research at CHANGE, explained. “Activists and advocates can use the SRHR Index to take action for sexual and reproductive rights based on scientific, evidence-based analysis. We urge the U.S. government to implement our recommendations and, in turn, take action to strengthen its global health assistance policies and programs. We certainly have a long way to go.”

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CHANGE is a U.S.-based nongovernmental organization that promotes sexual and reproductive health and rights as a means to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls, by shaping the public’s conversation, elevating women’s voices, and influencing U.S. and global policies. We are guided by our vision of a world that respects, protects, and honors sexual and reproductive rights for all. Our work is grounded in and driven by a human rights framework at the intersection of multiple sectors including women’s rights, human rights, family planning, maternal health, HIV and AIDS, and gender-based violence.

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