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President Obama Should Clarify Helms Amendment, Advance Reproductive Health Rights Of Women, Girls

Huffington Post: American Foreign Policy Must Focus on Women and Girls
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

“…Restrictive reproductive health laws in Latin America already pose great challenges to women. We must act quickly to ensure the Zika virus doesn’t make these problems worse. The United States can also be a global leader on women’s health by ensuring that women around the world who are raped, are victims of incest, or face a life-endangering pregnancy can receive the care they need in U.S.-supported programs. … By ensuring that those who seek abortions have access to safe services, the U.S. could help ease their burdens. Yet the [current interpretation of the] Helms Amendment forces these women and girls, who have already endured so much, to further risk their health and well-being. In August, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and I were joined by 81 Members of Congress calling on President Obama to issue guidance to clarify that Helms permits exceptions in the events of rape, incest, or danger to a woman’s life. I hope that the president, who has been so committed to the health and rights of women and girls, will fortify his legacy by issuing this critical guidance before the end of his term…” (3/8).