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Economic Commission for Europe, Regional Conference on International Conference on Population and Development
U.S. National Statement Delivered by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Assistant Marcella
October 19, 2023

U.S. National Statement Economic Commission for Europe, Regional Conference on International Conference on Population and Development

Plenary Segment: Statement by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Assistant Secretary Jessica Marcella

As Delivered

Thank you Madam Chair

As this is my first time taking the floor, I would like to start by offering our deep condolences to Israel for Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack and all the victims of the violence for which Hamas is solely responsible.

The United States is pleased to contribute to the UNECE regional review of the implementation on the ICPD Program of Action. We remain committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights to promote and protect the human rights of women, girls, and LGBTQI+ individuals, particularly those who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. The ICPD is foundational to our global efforts to achieve gender equality and health equity. Future success depends on strengthening the meaningful inclusion and participation of individuals in all of their diversity in the ICPD agenda through 2030 and beyond.

Charting a bold path ahead to address the unfinished agenda requires us each to persevere in our ambition, recognize our strengths, take accountability for our setbacks, and recommit to our shared SRHR cornerstones enshrined in Cairo – rights and choices. Ultimately, we must work together to reach youth more effectively, strive for gender equality in all spheres, and leave no one behind.

For more than fifty years, the United States has sought to positively transform lives. We do this by anchoring sexual and reproductive health services and information in communities and bolster the ability of individuals to plan if, when, and how to expand their families. This is our enduring commitment to protecting and enabling the most personal of all choices. We remain steadfast in our work to advance family planning at home and abroad. For more than five decades, USAID hasfocused support in more than 40 countries enabling hundreds of millions of people around the world to make informed choices and decisions about their reproductive lives, access their preferred method of contraception, and achieve healthy spacing of pregnancies.

Domestically, improving equitable access remains a cornerstone of our approach to our Title X family planning program. We have recognized the intrinsic value of centering the experience and expertise of communities to better address and eliminate racial and ethnic inequities.

As the review assesses progress since 1994, today, the United States must reflect on both our achievements and series of unrelenting challenges. We face a longstanding maternal health crisis with maternal mortality rates higher than any developed nation in the world. The pernicious effects of systemic barriers and implicit bias, which consistently fail to recognize, respect and listen to patients of color, has meant that Black and American Indian/Alaskan Native women – regardless of income or education – disproportionately experience grave health outcomes.

The loss of a constitutional right to make decisions about our health has compounded our nation’s public health crisis and intensified a chilling effect on equitable access to high-quality sexual, reproductive, and maternal health services. The Biden-Harris Administration is undertaking an intensive, robust, whole-of-government approach to address and respond to these serious threats, and we will speak to these comprehensive initiatives in greater depth over the coming days.

Thank you.