UC Irvine Journal of International, Transnational, and Comparative Law


This Note discusses the effect of U.S. foreign policies on the reproductive rights of women in developing countries. Many international human rights treaties and their progeny have consistently found that reproductive rights are intertwined with basic human rights, such as the right to privacy, the right to health, the right to education, and the right to start a family. Despite considering itself a superpower among all other countries, U.S. policies like the Helms Amendment and the Mexico City Policy fail to adhere to these basic international human rights standards. At the same time the United States recognized the constitutional right of its female citizens to have an abortion, it began restricting that right for women in countries that are dependent on the United States for health aid. U.S. foreign policies go far beyond abortion and affect almost all health services, even those tangentially related to reproductive health services. These policies reinforce the notion that women, especially non-American and impoverished women, should be delegated to a second-class version of citizenship because of their anatomy. In order to prevent this continuing and harmful discrimination against women in developing countries, the United States must immediately repeal these foreign policies, prevent any future iterations from being enacted, and ensure that all subsequent policies are consistent with international human rights standards.