Tag Archives: abortion

U.S. Prohibits Access to Safe Abortions in Other Countries

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In Haiti, a girl runs by a pharmacy that illegally sells drugs to induce abortion. Photo by Patrick Farrell

In Haiti, a girl runs by a pharmacy that illegally sells drugs to induce abortion. Photo by Patrick Farrell

A girl or woman who is raped and impregnated by Boko Haram in Nigeria might have no access to a safe abortion, leaving her with only bad and worse choices, thanks to the United States. The U.S. is the single largest donor country for women’s health programming and the only major donor country that puts draconian restrictions on access to safe abortion, even in cases of rape.

“Unsafe abortions are a leading cause of maternal deaths in Kenya, which has one of the 20 highest maternal mortality rates in the world,” writes Laura Bassett in ‘Instruments of Oppression’, published in the Huffington Post’s Highline. By the end of the [last] decade, some 100,000 women a year were dying or landing in emergency rooms with complications from unsafe abortions—fever, sepsis and organ failure. The crisis became so urgent that Kenya’s new constitution, approved by popular vote in 2010, declared that abortion would be legal when, ‘in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.’” 

Soon after, the U.S. stepped in and warned Kenyan health providers receiving U.S. aid that performing abortions would be a violation of the 1973 Helms amendment.

Two months later,” Bassett writes, “in February, the ministry wrote a second letter instructing all health providers to halt safe abortion trainings and stop stocking the medication that doctors use to perform non-surgical abortions in the first trimester. ‘Abortion on demand is illegal,’ the letter said, so ‘there is no need of training health workers on safe abortion or importation of drugs for medical abortion.’”

President Obama could remove the restrictions attached to U.S. funding on providing abortions in Kenya and other countries where the unsafe termination of pregnancy kills and injures so many girls and women; Bassett explores why he hasn’t. Read ‘Instruments of Oppression’.

  #tomorrowneedsher #womenshealth Because Tomorrow Needs Her focuses on some of the impediments to women’s health, exposing injustices that disproportionately affect women and girls around the world.