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Ads build on previous calls for White House action to expand women’s access to life-saving health care worldwide  


New York, NY — Building on previous calls for action on the issue, Planned Parenthood today ramped up pressure on the White House and President Obama to correct a longstanding misinterpretation of the Helms Amendment — with no conditions or qualifications — with a digital ad buy in Washington and a public campaign to engage and mobilize its 8 million supporters.

You can view some of the ads here.

One ad in the series reminds viewers that President Obama can “ensure access to lifesaving health care for women with the stroke of a pen.”  Another says “no woman or girl should be turned away from the care she needs.”

The Helms Amendment prohibits the use of U.S. foreign assistance funds “to pay for the performance of abortions as a method of family planning.” For more than 40 years, the law has been incorrectly implemented as a complete ban on funding for abortion under any circumstances. The Planned Parenthood campaign urges President Obama to correctly implement the policy to allow funding for safe and locally legal abortions in the cases of pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, or a life-endangering pregnancy.

“No woman should be forced to carry a pregnancy resulting from rape. And no woman should be turned away from the care she needs, especially when she faces a pregnancy which threatens her life,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “The president has been a strong champion of women's health — and now we need him to stand with women around the world again.” 

No congressional action or court decision is required to make this change. And following Congress' recent action to extend equitable abortion coverage for Peace Corps Volunteers in these same limited circumstances, a correct interpretation of Helms would bring U.S. foreign assistance in line with other federal programs, which include exceptions for rape, life, and incest. It would also stop the U.S. government from interfering with women’s access to safe abortion services in countries where it is legal in those circumstances.

Planned Parenthood’s latest activities build on previous calls for action on the issue. Last year, a broad coalition of leading domestic and global organizations, including faith leaders, came out in support of a correct interpretation of the Helms Amendment in order to save women’s lives and protect their well-being. The need for this change has been the subject of numerous opinion articles by Planned Parenthood leaders.

Currently, unsafe abortion leads to 22,000 deaths worldwide each year. While no single policy can address the broad challenges that affect women in developing countries each day, the administration can take an important step by correcting its implementation of the Helms Amendment. 


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 700 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.


Planned Parenthood Federation of America


Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433


February 20, 2015