Tuesday, March 2, 2021 | News

President Biden’s Budget Must Repeal the Helms Amendment

SRHR Congressional champions call for a budget free from harmful riders that limit access to abortion services – the Helms Amendment, Hyde Amendment and Weldon Amendment must be repealed.

Today the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus – led by U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette (CO-01) and Barbara Lee (CA-13) – along with the Democratic Women’s Caucus leaders, House Appropriations Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, and pro-choice Senators, sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging the removal of abortion coverage restrictions from the Fiscal Year 2022 budget. In the letter, the lawmakers said that reversing the Trump administration’s policies undermining access to sexual and reproductive health care, both domestically and globally, must be a top priority for the Biden Administration, but “simply reverting to where things were in 2016 is not enough.” They called on the president to eliminate the Hyde Amendment, the Weldon Amendment, the Helms Amendment, and other similar abortion coverage restrictions from the Fiscal Year 2022 budget.

The Biden-Harris Administration has taken positive steps to advance the sexual and reproductive health and rights of people everywhere but there is more to be done. Rescinding the Global Gag Rule on January 28 in the President’s memorandum on “Protecting Women’s Health At Home and Abroad” was the tip of the iceberg. Repealing the Helms Amendment is critical to achieving reproductive and economic freedom and equity for millions worldwide.

“The Helms Amendment is a policy rooted in racism and colonialism. For the past 48 years, it has oppressed and controlled the bodies of Black and brown women using the power of U.S. funding,” says Ipas President and CEO Anu Kumar.

People living in low- and middle-income countries continue to suffer under the Helms Amendment, even in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment.  Each year 35 million unsafe abortions occur in low- and middle-income countries, resulting in tens of thousands of preventable deaths and injuries. A new analysis from the Guttmacher Institute estimates that, if the Helms Amendment were repealed and U.S. support helped ensure that all abortions were provided safely in the countries where abortion is legal on at least some grounds and where the United States is already supporting family planning programs, there would be approximately 19 million fewer unsafe abortions and 17,000 fewer maternal deaths each year. The impact of repeal could be even greater if more countries liberalize their abortion laws or the U.S. government expands aid to other countries.

The U.S. Government is the largest bilateral donor of reproductive health in the world and it is the only donor nation to single out abortion like this. The U.S. is completely out of step with the rest of the world. In the last three decades, more than 40 countries have changed their policies to allow for greater access to abortion.

“The President’s budget must be free from the insidious Helms amendment and he must call on Congress to pass the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act, the first-ever stand alone legislation to repeal the Helms Amendment,” says Kumar.

More information can be found at repealhelms.org and congress.gov.