WASHINGTON — Today, the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act was introduced, critical legislation to repeal the Helms Amendment and recognize abortion as essential health care by halting the U.S. policy that blocks the use of foreign assistance to expand access to abortion. We applaud Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Norma Torres (D-CA) and Marilyn Strickland (D-WA) for their leadership; this is a necessary step to protect and strengthen reproductive health and rights globally.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“Abortion is essential health care, period. The Helms Amendment cruelly stands between people around the globe and the respect and services they need. It has always been a coercive policy, pushing the extreme ideology of a vocal minority in the U.S. on people in many of the lowest-income countries in the world — people in need of health care. The policy is a stark example of neocolonialism, taking advantage of the uneven relationship between the U.S. and the countries that receive aid. We thank Rep. Schakowsky and her fellow congressional health care champions for introducing this critical legislation to clearly declare: Now is the time to end the Helms Amendment.”
For nearly 50 years, the Helms Amendment has created harmful barriers to safe and legal health care for millions around the globe. The policy endangers lives, stigmatizes abortion, and undermines the advancement of health, human rights, and gender equality. The Helms Amendment restricts the ability of individuals to make their own personal medical decisions, and denies access to comprehensive reproductive health care. Women and young people in low-income countries are disproportionately affected — losing access to crucial care that could save lives and change communities.
Unsafe abortions are a global health crisis. There are more than 35 million unsafe abortions worldwide annually, accounting for roughly 8% of maternal deaths. The Helms Amendment exacerbates this crisis by putting safe abortion care out of reach for those served by U.S. foreign aid programs. Politicians in the U.S. should not be able to deny anyone’s access to health services, including abortion, no matter where you live. U.S. policy should explicitly support access to safe and legal abortion throughout the world, as part of U.S. efforts to advance health, human rights, and gender equity.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
For more than 45 years, Planned Parenthood Global has supported access to sexual and reproductive health care and advocated for reproductive rights around the world. In partnership with more than 100 organizations across nine focus countries in Africa and Latin America, we advance the health and rights of young people, women and families, with an emphasis on the most vulnerable and underserved. Last year, our partners provided over 1.8 million people with sexual and reproductive health information and services. Our unique sustainability model sets us apart, as we empower partners to stand on their own. We help grassroots organizations develop solid reproductive health programs, identify other sources of funding, build their communications and advocacy skills, and develop strategic plans. Planned Parenthood Global is the international arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.