Michael G. Kozak, a senior official with the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, said in a press briefing that the changes are "not a diminishment of women's rights or a desire to get away from it," but rather were done in order "to stop using a term that has several different meanings that are not all the ones we intend."
Previously, the "reproductive rights" section of the report included information about the legality of abortion within a country as well as the availability of contraception. The "Reproductive Rights" section was first included under the Obama presidency in the report that was released in 2012.
The new "Coercion in Population Control" section is under a larger section of each country's report, titled "Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons." The new section appears under the subsection for "women" and features reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization procedures, and "other coercive population control methods." There are also links to maternal mortality figures as well as the prevalence of contraceptives in a country.
In the report for China, for instance, there are several paragraphs highlighting instances of forced abortions and sterilizations. China current has a two-child policy that prohibits couples from having more than two children.
"As in prior years, population control policy continued to rely on social pressure, education, propaganda, and economic penalties, as well as on measures such as mandatory pregnancy examinations and, less frequently, coerced abortions and sterilizations," reads the report.
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, told CNA that she thinks the State Department was correct in making this change, and that abortion is an "inappropriate indicator of human rights."
"Likewise, it is making the right decision in recognizing the way abortion is used as a tool of coercion. The decision to do so further reflects the importance of having a pro-life administration such as this one," said Hawkins.