GJC in the News

US Move on Reproductive Rights Sets Dangerous Precedent

Excerpt of Fair Observer op-ed by GJC Legal Adviser Elena Sarver.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration cut funding to the Organization for American States for protecting reproductive rights. While America’s attention has turned to the restrictive abortion bans across numerous states, the Trump administration has continued its relentless attacks on women’s bodies and the very foundations of women’s rights abroad. Under the guise of foreign policy, the White House is exporting censorship — ultimately threatening US allied relations, the human rights system and women’s health.

These actions should raise red flags around the world about the United States’ damaging influence on human rights systems abroad, and its potential to cause increasing harm in the future.

In March, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced new changes to enforce and implement the Trump administration’s draconian policies on sexual and reproductive rights in foreign assistance. In the first part of Pompeo’s announcement, the administration expanded the scope of the Mexico City Policy (also known as the Global Gag Rule) to prohibit foreign nongovernmental organizations that receive US global health assistance funds from financing any other foreign NGOs that carry out banned operations, including performing or promoting abortion as a method of family planning.

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There’s Nothing “Pro-Life” About Sweeping Abortion Bans

Excerpt of Ms. Magazine op-ed by GJC Communications Manager Liz Olson.  

Alabama’s sweeping abortion ban compares abortion to the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide, as though the termination of a fetus is morally equivalent to the willful annihilation of a people. But it is abortion bans, not the women who seek them, that put lives at risk every day.

Legislation that criminalizes abortion access and provision does not prevent abortions—it just makes them more dangerous. The World Health Organization reports that about 25 million unsafe abortions are performed annually, primarily in regions with heavily restrictive abortion laws. Women who have unsafe abortions face serious and even fatal medical complications like heavy blood loss, infection and damage to internal organs. Unsafe abortions are even a leading cause of maternal mortality: 68,000 women die from them every year around the world.

The deadly impact of restrictive abortion policies is so well documented that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, once declared that total abortion bans “amount to a gender-based arbitrary killing, only suffered by women, as a result of discrimination enshrined in law.” 

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Alumna A Relentless Advocate for International Justice, Human Rights

GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan was featured by her alma mater UC Hasting College of the Law.

The Global Justice Center has had tremendous success in recent years ensuring women and girls raped in war have access to abortion services, and UC Hastings Law alumna Akila Radhakrishnan ‘09 is a major reason why.

Radhakrishnan, who now serves as president of the New York-based nonprofit, helped conceptualize the campaign to support the provision of sexual and reproductive rights to female rape victims. She has since led the legal and advocacy efforts for the project, which Radhakrishnan said has effectively advanced a feminist legal understanding of the laws of war.

Since 2010, abortion has been recognized as protected medical care under international humanitarian law by the United Nations Security Council; UN Secretary-General; the European Union Commission and Parliament; and the governments of the UK, Netherlands and France, among others.

“One of the key accomplishments and outcomes of this work has been shifting the norm around how abortion is considered fundamental care for rape victims in war,” Radhakrishnan said. “We are really proud of having helped to usher in that change.”

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Much More Than Language: How the US Denied Survivors of Rape in Conflict Lifesaving Care

Excerpt of Women Under Siege op-ed by GJC Deputy Legal Director Grant Shubin.  

On Wednesday, April 23, 2019, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2467 during the Council’s annual Open Debate on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence. .

After months of German-led negotiations, passage of the Resolution ultimately came down to sexual and reproductive health (SRH)—specifically, whether the U.S. would veto its inclusion in the final text.

The U.S. justified its position by claiming that SRH is a euphemism for abortion services. Not only is this not true—SRH includes, among other things, contraception, safe abortion services, HIV prevention, and prenatal healthcare—but even if it were, abortion services for survivors of sexual violence save lives.

Unsafe abortion causes the deaths of 47,000 people each year and leaves another 5 million with some form of permanent or temporary disability. They may suffer complications, including hemorrhage, infection, perforation of the uterus, and damage to the genital tract or internal organs. In fact, the consequences of denying abortion services have been found to be so severe that it can amount to torture and other inhuman or degrading treatment.

The international community cannot become accustomed or complacent to the Trump administration’s use of domestic politics to hold international rights hostage. Because it is more than just words that are given up last minute on the floor of the Security Council—it’s women’s lives.

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