FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - May 5, 2015
[NEW YORK, NY] - The rescue of 234 women and girls from Boko Haram captivity on May 4, 214 of whom the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reported to be pregnant, exposes the indignity of the U.S. foreign aid abortion ban, which severely limits the ability of sexual violence survivors to obtain the medical care they need.
“The international community must demand that these survivors of sexual violence receive fully comprehensive medical care, including access to safe abortions,” said Janet Benshoof, founder and president of the Global Justice Center, which is urging President Obama to issue an executive order to lift the abortion restrictions. “The Geneva Conventions guarantee these women and girls access to non-discriminatory medical care. Forcing these survivors to bear the children of their captors is simply inhumane.”
The U.S. abortion restrictions, outlined in the Helms Amendment, apply to all U.S. aid grantees, including the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) which are treating the rescued Nigerian women. Ms. Benshoof states that this U.S. policy ties the hands of both organizations to provide survivors of rape, captivity, and abuse the full scope of medical care.
“President Obama can and must take action to save these girls and others like them,” said Benshoof. “The U.S. must lead the world in rehabilitating survivors of sexual violence, not prolong their suffering.”