http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-23253296

10 July 2013

Sebastian Pinera supports Chile’s outright ban on abortion

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera has praised as “brave and mature” a pregnant 11-year-old rape victim who said she was happy to have the child.

The girl said during a TV interview the child would be “like having a doll”.

Experts criticised Mr Pinera’s comments as having no scientific foundation.

Mr Pinera supports Chile’s abortion laws, which outlaw the practice in all circumstances. His critics want it legalised in cases of rape, and want the girl to be allowed an abortion.

The 11-year-old girl appeared in a TV interview on Monday, saying: “I’m going to love the baby very much, even though it comes from that man who hurt me.

“It will be like having a doll in my arms.”

The girl was raped repeatedly over a two-year period by her mother’s boyfriend, who has since been arrested.

Mr Pinera said he had asked the health minister to personally look after the girl’s health.

“She surprised us all with words showing depth and maturity when she said that, despite the pain caused by the man who raped her, she wanted to have and take care of her baby,” he said.

Forensic psychologist Giorgio Agostini said the girl would not have the mental or emotional capacity to understand her situation.

“What the president is saying doesn’t get close to the psychological truth of an 11-year-old-girl,” he told the Associated Press news agency.

“It’s a subjective view that is not based on any scientific reasoning.”

The girl’s case has already sparked a public debate about abortion.

Campaigners argue that the laws, which date back to the authoritarian rule of Gen Augusto Pinochet, should be changed to allow for abortions in cases of rape or when the mother’s health is at risk.

Michelle Bachelet, the likely presidential candidate next year for the left-leaning opposition, supports the campaign.

Ms Bachelet earlier commented that the 11-year-old girl need to be protected.

“I think a therapeutic abortion, in this case because of rape, would be in order,” she said.

Chile is one of seven Latin American countries where abortion is completely banned.

Last month, the case of a seriously ill woman in El Salvador made international headlines when the courts upheld the ban on abortion even though the woman’s life was at risk and the foetus was unlikely to survive.

She was eventually allowed to have a caesarean section.

Latin America’s abortion laws

  • Outright ban in El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Chile, Honduras, Haiti, Suriname
  • Cuba, Guyana, Puerto Rico and Uruguay have most liberal laws
  • Brazil’s senate is currently debating legalisation of terminations during the first 12 weeks
  • More than 4 million abortions carried out each year
  • Between 1995-2008 some 95% were considered to be unsafe

Sources: World Health Organization, Guttmacher Institute

Parliamentary Assembly

Assemblée parlementaire

   

Doc.13110

24 January 2013

 

Failure to provide assistance to rape victim in Cologne, Germany, 15 December 2012

 

Written question No. 624 to the Committee of Ministers

by Ms Carina HÄGG, Sweden, Socialist Group

 

On 15 December 2012 in Cologne, Germany, two Catholic clinics rejected assisting a suspected rape victim in providing a gynaecological check-up for reasons claimed to be related to the ethics rules and procedures governing the hospitals which fall under the authority of the Catholic hierarchy in Germany. The 25 year old young woman woke up on a bench in a public park after having been drugged at a party she attended in Cologne with no memory of what happened in the intervening hours. With her mother, she went to a general practitioner who suspected that the young woman could have been the victim of rape/sexual assault. The general practitioner prescribed emergency contraception which is standard practice under German law in cases of rape/sexual assault, thus providing the young woman the ability to exercise her right to decide according to her own convictions whether to carry through or interrupt a possible pregnancy resulting from the sexual assault. After informing the police and in order to investigate possible criminal acts the general practitioner contacted two nearby hospitals for further medical testing, ie. conducting a ‘rape-kit’ – these were St.Vinzenz-Krankenhaus in Cologne-Nord and Heilig-Geist-Krankenhaus in Longerich (both happen to belong to the Foundation of Cellitinnen of Holy Maria).

 

However, both hospitals rejected the check-up of the suspected rape victim. Their Ethics Commissions had held consultations with Catholic Church authorities, after which the decision was taken to rule out such gynaecological check-ups in such cases since they are connected with a possible unwanted pregnancy as well as providing the victim with emergency contraception. The refusal to provide medical treatment based on Catholic ethics was maintained by the two hospitals even after the general practitioner clarified that he had already provided the suspected rape victim with the emergency contraception (which the Catholic hospitals would therefore not have had to provide).

 

In Germany, failure to provide assistance to a person in danger (unterlassene Hilfeleistung) is an offense according to paragraph 323c of the Penal Code (Strafgesetzbuch).

 

Ms Hägg,

 

To ask the Committee of Ministers:

 

– whether such actions by the Catholic hospitals in Cologne are in line with both the letter and the spirit of the laws in relation to the protection of victims of sexual assault/rape, specifically paragraph 323c of the German Code penal?

 

– whether it is known how many hospitals / health centres may be able to legally circumvent national laws in relation to the protection and assistance to victims of sexual assault based on  so-called ‘ethical’ grounds in Council of Europe member States?

 

– whether the public at large as well as victims’ associations and women’s groups should be informed in advance of all such hospitals / health centres in Council of Europe member States which may legally be allowed to circumvent national laws in relation to the protection and assistance to victims of sexual assault based on so-called ‘ethical’ grounds so that they may be able to better guide victims of sexual assault/rape?

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/feb/12/us-aid-ban-abortions-rape-victims

 

Prohibiting the use of foreign aid to provide access to safe abortions has repercussions far beyond US borders

 

US aid policy still denies women access to abortion if they are raped in war. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP

Over many years, I have visited conflict-affected states where I have met women who have suffered the agony of rape, and where sexual violence is the shocking and specific consequence of conflict.

These women are often traumatised, stigmatised and ostracised by their families and communities. When they are pregnant as a result of rape, these consequences are compounded.

While there is welcome attention focused on the plight of women and girls raped in war, there are still significant gaps in the international response to this global scourge.

One of those critical gaps is the routine denial of access to safe abortion services for rape survivors, which violates their rights under international humanitarian law. The reality is that these women are entitled under the Geneva conventions “to receive, to the fullest extent practicable and with the least possible delay, the medical care and attention required by their condition”.

I remember meeting three women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who had been gang-raped the day before as they walked home from the market. I will never forget them, and I have often wondered what would have happened if they were pregnant, because abortion is illegal in Congo .

What we do know is that, often when women in such situations are denied access to safe abortion services, they resort, in desperation, to unsafe methods that can result in serious harm or even death. And this happens even though several international bodies, including the committee against torture and the human rights committee, have found that the denial of abortion to rape victims can be defined as “torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”.

So what exactly are the obstacles and restrictions facing them, when it is already clearly defined that when rape is used as a weapon of war, in armed conflict, women have an absolute right to non-discriminatory medical care under the Geneva conventions?

The blame for these draconian restrictions lies at the door of the US and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), whose largest single donor is the US . The US imposes a “no abortion” ban on its foreign aid, which in practice means that the EU, the UK , the UN and the ICRC neither talk about nor provide abortions.

ICRC is the Department for International Development’s (DfID) partner of choice and receives the largest amount of DfID funding made to humanitarian organisations. This means that the UK is severely compromised by restrictions that it apparently doesn’t support, and which allow for a situation where life-saving abortion is being denied, even to very young girls raped in conflict.

This clearly flies in the face of international humanitarian law. In a recent statement, DfID said: “In conflict situations where denying an abortion in accordance with national law would threaten the mother’s life or cause unbearable suffering, international humanitarian law principles may justify performing an abortion”.

Does that mean that when the suffering of an impregnated war rape victim is “bearable” she can be denied an abortion? And how does she prove that her suffering is unbearable?

DfID says it talks to Norway , a country that is showing real leadership and has asked the US to lift the abortion ban as a matter of compliance with the Geneva conventions. Why doesn’t the UK join Norway in the stand it is taking?

And isn’t it time that the UK stood up for the rights of women and girls who have been raped to have the same access to medical treatment as other war victims?

 

 

Stephanie Johanssen

Legal Counsel for European and UN Affairs

Global Justice Center

European Court of Human Rights announced its judgment today in the case P. and S. v. Poland. Federation for Women and Family Planning and its lawyers have been involved in the case from the very beginning. It is a case of a teenage girl who was pregnant as a result of rape. Despite the fact that there was a relevant document issued by the prosecutor, she had been denied legal abortion in several hospitals. As a result she had to undergo the procedure in a hospital located 500 kilometers from her place of residence. Besides that, her right to confidentiality of medical information was breached, which resulted in severe harassment by pro-life and Catholic activists. The girl was also separated from her mother and placed in a juvenile shelter.

The Court determined violations of Article 8, (right to respect for private and family life) as regards the determination of access to lawful abortion in respect of both applicants (by six votes to one) and as regards the disclosure of the applicants’ personal data (unanimously);  Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) in respect of P., and a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights in respect of P.

The court held that Poland was to pay P. 30,000 euros (EUR) and S. EUR 15,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 16,000 to both applicants in respect of costs and expenses.

Read the judgment in full here: http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/fra-press/pages/search.aspx?i=003-4140612-4882633

 

This example in Ghana is a good example of what can happen when abortion is illegal, and how this hurts and exploits women.

‘Dr.’ Joshua Drah, the now infamous medical assistant who had been illegally operating an illegal abortion clinic – Universal Mission Clinic – conducting 1000s of abortions whiles having sex with some clients, telling them it was necessary for the procedure.

Read the whole article here:

General News of Friday, 7 September 2012

Sexy Lord Of Abortion III -Consent Or No Consent?

 How Drah slept with his clients

http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=249798

http://www.avaaz.org/en/no_prison_for_contraception/?fp

Honduras is just days away from approving an extremist law that would put women in prison for using the morning-after pill, even after being raped. But we can stop this law and give women back the chance to prevent unwanted pregnancy. 

Some Congress members agree that this law — which would also jail doctors or anyone who sells the pills — is excessive, but they are bowing to the powerful religious lobby that wrongly claims the morning-after pill constitutes an abortion. The head of the Congress, who wants to run for President of Honduras and cares about his reputation abroad, can stop this. If we pressure him now we can shelve this reactionary law. 

The vote could happen any day now — let’s show Honduras that the world will not stand by as it jails women for preventing pregnancy even after sexual violence. Sign the urgent petition on the right calling on the President of Congress Juan Orlando Hernández to stand up for women’s rights. If we reach 400,000 signatures, local women’s groups will personally deliver our outcry to Hernández.

Kelsey Holt and Kate Grindlay, Ibis Reproductive Health

(Full article here: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/01/10/supporting-our-troops-includes-protecting-their-reproductive-health-and-rights)

At the end of last year the Senate blocked the Shaheen Amendment to the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which would have restored insurance coverage of abortion for women serving in the military who are raped—giving military women the same benefits that federal employees, women enrolled in Medicaid, and women in federal prison receive.

The lack of support for this bill is shocking given the high rates of sexual assault and rape in the military that put the nearly 300,000 women serving in the US military (97 percent of whom are of reproductive age) at increased risk for unintended pregnancy. While the Shaheen Amendment would have been an important step forward in ensuring comprehensive health care for servicewomen, our research at Ibis Reproductive Health has documented a number of other gaps in access to reproductive health care that also need to be addressed. We urge policymakers in 2012 to put politics aside and support the women serving our country through policies that meet their needs and promote their health and well-being.

Servicewomen need access to abortion in military medical facilities to ensure safe, confidential, and timely access to care

In addition to military insurance not covering abortions except in cases where the servicewoman’s life is in danger, current federal policy also prohibits abortions from being performed in military facilities overseas even if a woman pays for it herself, with narrow exceptions for life endangerment, rape, and incest.

In a recent study we conducted with military women and dependents seeking abortion during overseas deployment, women with an unintended pregnancy overwhelmingly wanted to complete their tour of duty and continue serving their country, and did not want to interrupt their service by returning home because of the pregnancy. The majority, however, were stationed in countries where abortion is prohibited, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, where abortion is banned except to save the life of the woman.

Women furthermore reported difficulties leaving their military bases due to combat operations and other unsafe conditions that limited their mobility. In the face of these obstacles to in-country abortion care, they had to leave to return to the US for an abortion. These circumstances adversely affect the ability of the woman’s unit to accomplish its mission, and a soldier’s travel to the United States for an abortion also delays access to this time-sensitive procedure, creates confidentiality concerns, and can negatively affect the soldier’s career.

We found that even in circumstances of rape, when women should, under current law, be entitled to abortion services at military facilities (if they pay for it themselves), many servicewomen were still seeking to terminate their pregnancy outside of the military system because they feared their account of the rape would not be believed and that the pregnancy could negatively affect their careers. More efforts are needed to ensure that servicewomen who experience military sexual trauma receive the timely care and support that they need and deserve. Moreover, military policies prohibiting or discouraging sexual activity during deployment create an environment of fear for some women, and the military should instead emphasize making reproductive health services, including the full range of contraceptive methods and abortion care, available rather than punishing the women (and men) who have unintended pregnancies.

Servicewomen need access to the full range of contraceptive methods for deployment

According to a literature review we recently published, U.S. military women experience higher rates of unintended pregnancy than women of reproductive age in the US overall, and though this may in part be due to disproportionate numbers of young women serving in the military, these rates signal health care needs that are not being met. Our research on the experiences of US military women seeking health care during deployment has found that women face a number of challenges to accessing contraceptives during deployment. Preliminary results from an online survey and telephone interviews with servicewomen show that women do not get routine counseling about contraceptive options as part of pre-deployment preparations; they do not always have access to the full range of contraceptive methods—in particular IUDs—for deployment; and they face challenges getting refills and consistently using their method during tours of duty.

Servicewomen should be able to access the full range of reproductive health care services so that they can decide if and when to have children, and can lead safe, healthy reproductive lives during and after their military service. All women in the military need to know about and have access to the full range of contraceptive methods and abortion services during overseas deployment, when they may have no other source of health care than military medical facilities. Allowing abortions to be provided in military medical facilities (and ideally be covered by military insurance to prevent financial barriers) would ensure safe, timely access to abortion care—either in-country or on a military base in the United States.

Improved reproductive health care access during deployment would not only meet the needs of servicewomen, but also help promote troop readiness, ensuring women who serve their country can do their jobs and that their units do not suffer their absences any longer than necessary. Finally, it is critical that sexual assault in the military continues to be addressed and that sexual assault survivors have access to high-quality prevention and treatment services.

Women in the military serve their country with distinction and protect our rights. We should support their rights and health, and ensure they have access to the reproductive health information, services, and products they need.