NAWO wrote to President Obama to urge him to reaffirm United States support for the Geneva Conventions. This campaign has been launched to demand that he removes blanket abortion prohibitions on US humanitarian aid to girls and women raped in armed conflict.
This was alongside the Global Justice Centre and a consortium of over 3,000 legal, human rights, humanitarian, public health, and other organisations. The consortium represents individuals from Africa, Europe, Latin America, Canada and the US.
Norway became the first country to formally recomend the removal of the blanket abortion restrictions on 5th November, 2010, citing a Global Justice Centre report on the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.
On 18th March, 2011, the US responded that it could not do so due to ‘currently applicable restrictions’. As a matter of law, President Obama has the power and duty to act on this.
The letters to President Obama clearly communicated the global outrage over the fact that the most vulnerable of war victims – girls and women impregnated by rape as a weapon of war – are being denied, by the very organisation empowered to help them, the comprehensive and non-discriminate medical care required by international law.
We hope that President Obama’s response shows his commitment to US compliance with the Geneva Conventions and that he will lift the abortion restrictions, thus ensuring that the U.S will not continue to magnify the suffering of girls and women raped in conflict.