Today’s statement, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in the United States, signals President Biden’s commitment to protecting reproductive freedom for people in the U.S. We agree that everyone must have access to reproductive health care, including abortion, no matter their income, race, zip code, health insurance status or immigration status. And that applies to all people, no matter where in the world they live—in the United States or abroad. Abortion is health care and when our leaders avoid the word “abortion” even though that is what they mean, they stigmatize and directly harm the very people who want and need access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion.
The Administration must be bold and publicly share their vision for advancing reproductive justice for all people, here in the United States and around the world and that includes expanding abortion access. If the United States is truly to re-enter the global community, it must make clear that it will act to ensure that all people are free and equal to exercise bodily autonomy and have access to abortion.
We know the President will rescind the Global Gag Rule but that is just the tip of the iceberg. People—mainly Black and brown—living in low-to-middle income countries will still suffer under the Helms Amendment, which denies abortion services and information through US foreign assistance, even in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment. The Helms Amendment, a policy rooted in racism and colonialism, has been in effect for 48 years, and was introduced in direct response to Roe v. Wade to oppress and control the bodies of black and brown women using the power of the US funding.
We urge the Biden Administration to immediately expand U.S. foreign assistance for abortion to the maximum extent allowed under the law, including abortion information, counseling and referral. Today, millions are denied care because providers are not only barred from performing services, they cannot even tell their patients where to go to receive them. This can change instantly with simple clarification and guidance from the Biden administration that allows US foreign aid to be used to provide information and counseling about all legal pregnancy options.
We expect the Biden Administration to not only right the wrongs caused by four years of attacks on abortion rights here at home and globally but push a progressive agenda for reproductive justice for all. This administration must reassert the U.S.’s leadership position as a human rights defender, reject harmful domestic and foreign policies, such as the Hyde, Helms Amendment and the Global Gag Rule, and champion support for their permanent repeal.