The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed anti-choice advocate Andrew Bremberg to serve as U.S. ambassador in Geneva.
The Senate voted for the confirmation along party lines, 50-44, with two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK), voting against it. President Donald Trump nominated Bremberg in September 2018 to serve as ambassador of the United States to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva. Bremberg had served in the White House as the head of its Domestic Policy Council. Prior, he led Trump’s transition team for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Reproductive health and rights advocates have suggested that Bremberg’s elevation to an international platform could have a detrimental effect on the issue globally. “Every day around the globe, the reproductive health of millions of women and girls, the LGBTQ community and immigrants are at risk or being denied entirely. Andrew Bremberg’s confirmation to this critical position will only continue the cycle of targeted attacks and discrimination against these vulnerable communities,” said Giselle Carino, CEO and regional director for the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR).
Nina Besser Doorley, associate director of advocacy and policy at the International Women’s Health Coalition, wrote in a July post that Bremberg in this position “would be responsible for representing the United States in over 20 multilateral organizations in Geneva, including the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and the World Health Organization” adding that the “Trump administration has increasingly sought to use the UN to roll back longstanding global commitments on sexual and reproductive health and rights.”
Anti-choice group Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List celebrated Bremberg’s confirmation in a statement Tuesday, noting his potential to bring his anti-choice views to his new position. “Andrew Bremberg will be a strong advocate for the cornerstone of all human rights, the right to life, and will stand up to the international abortion lobby at the United Nations,” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said.
During a hearing in June before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bremberg was transparent about his opposition to abortion no matter the circumstances. When asked by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), ranking member of the committee, whether “victims of sexual violence should be able to terminate the pregnancy where legal,” Bremberg affirmed his blanket disapproval of abortion rights.
“Senator, I don’t believe abortion is a moral solution to any problem,” Bramberg said. “I am pro-life,” he continued when pressed by Menendez. “I believe that all human life is sacred and that human life begins at conception.”
Bremberg during another nomination hearing said he helped craft the administration’s expanded global “gag rule.” The anti-choice restriction, also known as the “Mexico City Policy,” prohibits foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from receiving U.S. family planning aid from providing abortion care or information about the medical procedure. Though Republican administrations have long implemented the policy, under Trump’s leadership, it was expanded to apply to all U.S. global health programs.
“Yes, I participated in the development and implementation of the policy,” Bramberg said during the hearing. When asked by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) if he had seen reports of the policies’ effect, he affirmed he had been briefed on the matter but claimed that most organizations have not had trouble complying with the anti-choice restriction.
A growing body of research shows that Trump’s global “gag rule” has had a vast negative effect on global access to reproductive health services. A June report from the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) found the policy “is exacerbating existing barriers to accessing health care, making a broad range of services less accessible, including comprehensive abortion care, contraceptive services, HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, screening for cervical cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and support for survivors of gender-based violence.”
During his time in the Trump White House, Bremberg played a key role in the administration’s efforts to undo Obama-era rules and regulations in conjunction with Republicans in Congress, according to a May 2017 New York Times report. “The result was a historic reversal of government rules in record time,” reported the Times. “Mr. Trump has used the review act as a regulatory wrecking ball, signing 13 bills that erased rules on the environment, labor, financial protections, internet privacy, abortion, education, and gun rights.”
That included an Obama administration rule preventing states from barring funding to Title X family planning program recipients who provide abortion care and reversed after Trump signed legislation from Congress to do so in April 2017.
Bremberg stood by Vice President Mike Pence’s side in 2018 when he gave a speech at the annual anti-choice gathering March for Life.
UPDATE: This piece has been updated to clarify the title of Nina Besser Doorley.