On March 7, 2013, the European Parliament issued an open letter to President Obama, urging him to lift US abortion restrictions on aid to war rape victims.
The Global Justice Center's August 12th Campaign challenges the denial of life-saving abortions to girls and women who are raped and impregnated in armed conflict, as a violation of the Geneva Conventions.
This letter highlights the fact that the US "no abortion" clause negatively affects how aid from foreign governments can be administered because it is often pooled together. As a result, humanitarian aid organizations on the ground are often unable to provide medically-necessary abortions to girls and women who have endured the horrors of war rape.
Here is the press release issued by the MEPs:
D66 Press Release
Brussels, 7 March 2013
MEPs urge Obama to rescind US abortion ban for women raped in armed conflict
In an open letter to United States President Barack Obama, Members of the European Parliament Working Group on Reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS and Development (EPWG) urge the head of state to immediately lift US abortion restrictions on humanitarian aid for girls and women raped and impregnated in armed conflict. "Withholding war raped women the right to safe abortion as a result of US development aid policy is a form of violence against women and girls, priority theme at the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York", says Chair of the EPWG, Dutch Liberal Democrat Sophie in 't Veld.
In 't Veld and colleagues have been campaigning for the EU and its Member States to no longer accept the US imposed ban. "Europe must speak up for those women, and urge our American friends and allies to immediately abolish the ban."
The US imposes a "no abortion" clause on its foreign aid, which in practice means that humanitarian organizations that receive US funding neither talk about nor provide safe abortions to victims of war rape. In 't Veld comments: "Rape is being used as a weapon of war, destroying lives, families and communities. Women victims are already punished enough and should not be denied the right to a safe termination of the resulting unwanted pregnancy."
Every year, tens of thousands of girls and women are raped during armed conflicts. More than two-thirds of conflict-related rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are gang rapes, one third of the victims are girls under the age of 18. Given that many girls and women in the DRC are raped in the context of sexual slavery, they incur the greatest risk of pregnancy. In 't Veld: "The fact that United States is the world’s largest provider of humanitarian aid has enabled it to impose its policy on abortion on neutral organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross. The US should make a distinction between abortion as a means of family planning and termination of pregnancy as a medical necessity."