Women’s Media Center | 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.