Democratic lawmakers and abortion advocates pressure Biden to fund overseas abortions

WASHINGTON, DC, August 19 (C-Fam) Ahead of the August recess of Congress, Democratic lawmakers and abortion advocates teamed up to pressure the Biden administration to roll back a 50-year-old law years that prevents American taxpayers’ money from funding abortions. the globe.

Abortion advocates have long called for the repeal or redefinition of the Helms Amendment. Since its implementation, the amendment has prohibited US funds from being used for abortion or abortion counseling. Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) spearheaded the legislation in 1973 after the Supreme Court established abortion as a federal right in Roe vs. Wade, and to end abortion activity within the United States Agency for International Development. It amended the Foreign Aid Act 1961, which governs all foreign aid.

The June Supreme Court decision overturning deer led to a blitz on the abortion bill by Democratic lawmakers. It was also the impetus to push abortion forward in US foreign policy, but the Helms Amendment is a major hurdle.

A legislative repeal of the Helms Amendment was proposed in late July by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). In addition to permanently repealing Helms, the law would establish abortion as an “essential component” of health care in U.S. foreign assistance, allowing abortion training, supplies and equipment. This is the first time that such a bill has been tabled in the Senate.

Booker and his Senate colleagues say Helms was over-enforced and the statute as written could allow exceptions for rape, incest and to preserve the life of the mother.

Yet, in reviewing congressional records of the debate over the passage of the Helms Amendment, it is clear that Senator Helms believed that the inclusion of language “as a method of family planning” broadened the application of the law. to ban funding not only to provide abortions, but also for abortion-related counseling.

A group of pro-abortion and LGBT rights organizations took the opportunity to call on the Biden administration to redefine the Helms Amendment and allow “USAID reproductive health funding in full measure of the law”. The organizations say USAID and the State Department can selectively fund abortion “without violating Congressional limits on abortion funding.”

“USAID and the Department of State can take concrete steps to mitigate the adverse global impacts of the Supreme Court’s decision, immediately, by clarifying exceptions to U.S. restrictions on abortion funding,” the letter reads. .

Such a “clarification” would effectively redefine and void the Helms Amendment, which has always been interpreted as absolute, including the ban on the purchase by the United States of abortion devices intended for use in the stranger. To create even ostensibly narrow exceptions would require the United States to guarantee funding for the training and supply of abortion providers. Once these mechanisms are established, ensuring their use only in exceptional cases would be extremely difficult, especially abroad.

The signatories include prominent global abortion groups, including several US recipients of global health grants that have received tens of millions of dollars, including Pathfinder and the International Planned Parenthood Foundation.

The Democratic senators followed with their own letter to USAID Administrator Samantha Power. The letter requests that guidance be sent to all aid recipients in the country stating that the decision canceling deer has no impact on their ability to provide abortions.

Over the past two years, President Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders have pledged to repeal the Helms Amendment for the past two years, even though polls suggest it remains a popular law with voters. Americans. In recent days, even the granddaughter of Jesse Helm, who works for a global abortion group, has called for the cancellation of her grandfather’s signature amendment.

About Michael S. Montanez

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