Excerpt of Ms. Magazine Op-Ed authored by GJC Legal Director, Dr. Christine Ryan.
Seeking protection from Russian bombing and shelling amidst a siege of their city, thousands of civilians in Bucha bunkered down in subways and basements. But for some, the reprieve from artillery was not enough. For women and girls, there was no shelter from the sexual violence inflicted by Russian soldiers.
Rape, sexual slavery and forced pregnancy are among the war crimes reportedly suffered by women and girls in Bucha and in wider Ukraine. Yet, the cruelty endured by these victims does not end there. Thanks to U.S. policy, abortion may be unavailable to these women and girls.
Because the Ukrainian health system is drastically strained, international humanitarian aid is playing an outsized role in delivering healthcare throughout the country. But all humanitarian aid provided by the U.S.—the largest single-country donor of humanitarian assistance to Ukraine—is subject to the Helms Amendment, which limits the use of U.S. foreign assistance funds for abortion. In this way, rather than alleviating their suffering, U.S. aid could be the reason that victims of wartime rape are denied abortions and forced to give birth.