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European Union Divorces Itself from US Abortion Ban: Anti-US Helms Amendment Attached to 2016 EU Budget

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - December 18, 2015

[NEW YORK, NY] – The EU just approved its 2016 budget containing the first ever anti-Helms Amendment. The US Helms amendment imposes abortion restrictions on all US foreign aid, which the Obama Administration implements as a total ban on abortion including medical services for girls and women raped in war.

Janet Benshoof, President of the Global Justice Center states, “This budget language shows the EU is serious about ensuring that the humanitarian entities they fund follow the Geneva Conventions, not the US abortion ban.”

The EU in September 2015, following the UK, acknowledged that female war rape victims’ rights to medical care under the Geneva Conventions include abortion, irrespective of any restrictive abortion laws in war zones. Following this, the newly approved budget requires that EU humanitarian aid be provided “in accordance with international humanitarian law,” and without “discrimination or adverse distinction.” And, in a reference to the US Helms amendment, the budget mandates EU funds “not be subject to restrictions imposed by other partner donors.”

“Sexual violence is a devastating weapon in the war-torn areas, these women and girls are war wounded and should be treated equally,” said Sophie in 't Veld (Member of European Parliament The Netherlands, ALDE/ D66), during a speech on this budget language. “The EU is taking steps to ensure that EU humanitarian aid funds are not tainted by other donor countries—to force a girl enslaved by ISIS, kidnapped by Boko Haram or raped in the DRC to bear a child of her rapist, who may be, as a result, expelled from the community and condemned to poverty, is inhumane treatment.”

According to Benshoof, the EU policies require changes in the practices of nearly all the major humanitarian entities currently providing medical care for war victims including UN agencies.

The European Parliament was even more explicit in its December 15, 2015 Report for the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit, urging “that women and girls have access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services, including safe abortions, in humanitarian crises, rather than perpetuating what amounts to inhumane treatment, as required by international humanitarian law and as foreseen in the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols.”

“With the endemic use of rape as a weapon of war in conflicts across the globe, this dramatic policy shift demonstrates a sea change toward ensuring that all girls and women raped in war are provided comprehensive medical care,” says Benshoof.

The budget language on humanitarian aid can be found here on page 144.

For more information contact:
Stephanie Olszewski (New York), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. +1.212.725.6530 ext. 211


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Tags: Abortion, European Union, August 12th