State Department officials have been ordered to pare back passages in a soon-to-be-released annual report on global human rights that traditionally discuss women’s reproductive rights and discrimination, according to five former and current department officials.
The directive calls for stripping passages that describe societal views on family planning, including how much access women have to contraceptives and abortion.
A broader section that chronicles racial, ethnic and sexual discrimination has also been ordered pared down, the current and former officials said.
The move, believed to have been ordered by a top aide to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, appears to highlight the stated desire of Tillerson and President Donald Trump to make human rights a lower priority in U.S. foreign policy.
The annual human rights document is the product of a long and painstaking process of compiling information from U.S. embassies. An often dryly written explanation of conditions in dozens of nations, it can nonetheless cast a harsh light on governmental and societal practices.
The report is relied on by a range of people, from U.S. lawmakers to political activists. Asylum seekers from countries such as China, for instance, have cited the report to support claims that they are subject to forced sterilization or abortion.
Past human rights reports have covered the issue of women’s reproductive rights in detail, offering numerous statistics and anecdotes to paint a picture of the conditions in particular countries.