JDC's Ethiopia Medical Director Denies Forced Sterilization
Dr. Rick Hodes denies an Israel Educational Television report that alleged that Falash Mura women were forced to take shots of the long-acting birth control drug Depo-Provera by the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Government of Israel in order to be cleared for immigration to Israel. IET also claimed that the women were forced to continue the shots once they arrived in Israel and were housed in JDC-run absorption centers.
Thanks for your inquiry.
JDC runs the medical program in Gondar for potential immigrants to
Israel. As part of this, we offer voluntary contraception to our
population. Our clinic offers both birth control pills and injectable
contraception. If a woman prefers another method of contraception such
as implantable or tubal ligation, we send them to facilities down the
road in the city of Gondar for this.
Women come to the program because they desire family planning. We
present the various options to them and they choose. So women both
choose to use contraception and choose their method. And choose when
to discontinue contraception. It has always been that way in our
Right now we’re caring for about 4500 potential immigrants to Israel.
We average about 85 family planning visits each month.
We do not inform the Israeli authorities who is on family planning,
and I have no idea what happens once they arrive in Israel.
Regarding the rate of 30% reported some years ago, we offered family
planning to the population at a time when it was less available to the
general public, and our population chose to use it.
At present, the rate of modern contraceptive use in Amhara Region is
33% indicating a significant demand, as contraceptive services have
become more available to the public. Even now, there is an unmet
demand for contraceptive services in this region of over 20%. To give
you an idea of the rise in this service, in 2005, 15.7% used modern
contraception in Amhara region.
Injectable contraceptives are the most desired throughout the country.
They are easy, culturally preferred, and offer the ability to be on
birth control without a woman informing her husband, which is an issue
I appreciate the chance to set this record straight.
Rick Hodes, MD, MACP
Medical Director, AJJDC-Ethiopia
Update 9:50 am CST – I followed up with Dr. Hodes to make sure there was no mistake about what he was saying:
"So to be clear, you're saying that you personally never told any woman that she would have to take Depo-Provera shots in order to immigrate to Israel? The women claim that JDC workers from Israel told them they had to do it. Is that claim to the best of your knowledge false?"
Dr. Hodes replied:
To the best of my knowledge, this claim is 100% false.
Neither myself nor my staff have ever told any women in our program that they should take Depo-Provera for any reason. 100% of Depo-Provera shots are purely voluntary, and may be discontinued (or changed to another method) at any time.
In fact, we don't have JDC workers from Israel come and tell women