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WASHINGTON — Today, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ),Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Tina Smith (D-MN) introduced the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act, which would repeal the Helms Amendment. If passed, it will allow U.S. foreign assistance funding to be used to provide comprehensive reproductive health care services and information, including the abortion services, training, and equipment. 

For nearly 50 years, the Helms Amendment has blocked the use of U.S. foreign assistance for abortion, creating significant barriers to  abortion access around the world. This disastrous policy has impacted the health and well-being of millions of people who live in areas that are served by U.S. foreign assistance programs — by restricting them from making their own personal medical decisions and denying them access to comprehensive reproductive health care. 

Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America: 

“Ending the Helms Amendment is a powerful step toward ensuring that U.S. foreign policy expands access to quality, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care services beyond its borders, including abortion. For far too long, the Helms Amendment has denied people of their reproductive rights, kept them from the essential health care they want and need, and reduced the availability of safe, legal abortion. It’s a coercive policy that forces the extreme ideology of a vocal minority in the U.S. on people in many of the lowest-income countries in the world. The policy is a stark example of neocolonialism and deeply rooted in white supremacy, designed to take advantage of the uneven relationship between the U.S. and the countries that receive aid. 

We thank Senators Booker,Duckworth, Hirono, Blumenthal, and Smith for introducing this critical legislation as an important step to protecting abortion access globally."

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Women and young people in low-income countries are disproportionately affected by the Helms Amendment — which has, for decades, denied them access to crucial care that could save lives and change communities. 

Annually, there are more than 35 million unsafe abortions worldwide. Poor conditions and lack of access to effective care following unsafe abortions contributes to 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 assistance, including global health, gender-based violence, and humanitarian programs. 

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Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care for all 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, striving to create equitable access to health care. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable education and 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 (PPFA) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the independently incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates operating health centers across the U.S.