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Helms Amendment Interpretation Is A ‘Violation Of Women’s Human Rights’

The Hill: Helms amendment blocks aid to African women
Suzanne Ehlers, CEO of Population Action International (PAI)

“…For 40 years, the Helms amendment has been applied as a blanket restriction on the use of U.S. funds to pay for abortions. Since its passage, policymakers have gone beyond the letter of the law, barring foreign assistance dollars from paying for abortion services even under the direst circumstances — cases that have nothing to do with family planning — cases where women have suffered rape or incest or whose pregnancies put their lives in danger. … Redefining the Helms amendment is about access to safe treatment for survivors of sexual violence, and for women whose lives are in danger during pregnancy. Most Americans — even conservative members of Congress — accept the rights of women to receive abortions in these exceptional cases. The current interpretation of the Helms amendment is not only inconsistent with U.S. policy; it is a violation of women’s human rights that hurts the most vulnerable. The president can correct the misinterpretation of the Helms amendment immediately and without congressional approval. It’s time to fix this broken policy and end a forty-year injustice” (8/8).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.