Friday, August 19, 2016

The Obama Administration Fails to Take Action to Make Abortion Funding Available to Victims of War Rape

Ms. Blog (August 17, 2016): How Seven Words Deny Abortions to Women Raped in War, by Grant Shubin:

In 1973, Congress passed the Helms Amendment which prohibits the use of U.S. foreign aid to "fund abortions as a method of family planning."  Although the provision seems to allow funding for abortions where a woman's health is at risk or where pregnancy results from rape or incest, the George W. Bush administration interpreted the provision to prohibit all abortion funding.  Despite growing attention to the rape of women in war and conflict situations, the Obama administration has failed to take action to correct the Bush administration's interpretation of the Helms Amendment. 

The blanket restriction on abortion funding is inconsistent with international law and the Geneva Conventions.

At least two human rights committees at the United Nations have found that the mental and physical harm that comes with denying abortions for rape victims amounts to torture.  This is not like waterboarding or other types of torture Americans may be used to hearing about, this is grounded in discrimination: only women must continue medically dangerous or unwanted pregnancies; only women suffer the mental agony and physical trauma of unsafe abortions; only women have to risk their lives because of the intentional absence of a medical procedure—to which they have a right.

U.S. allies including France, Great Britain and the European Union have said that the Geneva Conventions require access to abortion for war rape victims.

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