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Democratic lawmakers warn Pompeo against possible ban on sex health terminology

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Washington, November 14, 2018 | comments

Written by Matthew Choi, Politico

Several Democratic members of Congress are warning Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to not move forward with a possible ban on State Department employees using terms like “sexual and reproductive health” and “comprehensive sexuality education”.

The lawmakers — Reps. Eliot Engel, Jan Schakowsky, Nita Lowey, Barbara Lee and Lois Frankel — argue in a letter sent Wednesday to Pompeo that banning State Department employees from using those terms would be regressive for U.S. global health programs. The letter comes after POLITICO reported that conservative political appointees at the State Department were pushing for the proposal two weeks ago.

"To suppress such language is to signal to the world that the U.S. deems ideology more important than facts in determining America's foreign policy priorities," the letter said. That is particularly alarming with respect to global health, as U.S. leadership and global health assistance have helped save millions of lives and protect Americans from infectious threats."

The proposal reflects the Trump administration's pullback from programs advancing women's reproductive health, especially regarding abortion. Though it's unclear what policy consequences it would have, the proposal would complicate terminology in agreements with the United Nations and other countries regarding public health. The policy could also complicate dealings with non-governmental organizations that continue to use the terms.

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