FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 17, 2020
The Womxn Project is proud to be part of a robust coalition working to get rid of the Helms Amendment, which harms Black and Brown people around the world.
(Providence, RI) – Statement by Jocelyn Foye, The Womxn Project on the 47th anniversary of the Helms Amendment, a policy that denies the use of US funds to ensure safe abortion services:
“Since 1973, the Helms Amendment has prohibited any U.S. foreign aid from being used for ‘the performance of abortion as a method of family planning.’ In practice, Helms has banned all U.S. foreign assistance funds from being used for any abortion care. As the largest government funder of global health, including family planning and reproductive health services, the United States should be stepping up and doing everything we can to prevent negative maternal health outcomes. But instead we have archaic language that creates an arbitrary line between abortion and all other health-care services, limiting access to critical care, particularly in the Global South. It is unconscionable for the United States to force a health-care provider in another country to choose between limiting the care they can give to patients and keeping critical funding. The way it is has been interpreted and implemented, Helms is a ban on funding for abortion and denies millions of mostly Black and brown people in low-to-middle income countries the health care they need and want.
Restricting U.S. foreign aid for abortion is harmful to the health and well-being of people around the world. Barriers to accessing abortion care too often mean that people’s only option is to seek an abortion in conditions that are considered unsafe —globally, more than 35 million people have abortions in unsafe conditions each year. As a result, tens of thousands of people die and millions more face dangerous injuries and complications. It is way past time to get rid of this hateful, harmful policy and put health and safety before political agendas.
In July, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act, which repeals the Helms Amendment. The bill is currently cosponsored by more than 120 representatives in the 116th Congress, including Rhode Island’s Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI). This was the first time in 47 years that members of Congress have introduced standalone legislation to repeal the Helms Amendment.
We are urging Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) to sign on to this important bill. We are also urging the Biden/Harris administration to show Americans, and the rest of the world, that they stand for reproductive freedom by supporting the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act. It’s time to end nearly five decades of harm and for the US government to stop neglecting, stigmatizing and separating out abortion care.
The Womxn Project is proud to endorse the bill and to be part of a broad coalition of global reproductive health and rights advocacy, research, and service delivery organizations working to mitigate and address the harms caused by Helms. The Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act is currently endorsed by more than 115 organizations.”
Jocelyn Foye is available for interview up on request.
More information can be found at repealhelms.org and congress.gov.
– – – – – – – – – – –
“There is a dangerous and calculated agenda to take away all access to abortion. Whether it is abortion bans pushed through the US or the harmful policies we export across the globe, politicians are trying to deny us the agency and autonomy in our own reproductive lives. And like other political games, these policies fall hardest on marginalized communities who already struggle to get healthcare. We are proud to work with our partners to get rid of the Helms Amendment and take on any attempt to take away our most personal decisions.” – Jocelyn Foye, Director, The Womxn Project