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Obama Should Address Policy Limiting Abortion Funding For U.S. Programs Overseas

The Hill: Death-dealing double standard of U.S. policies toward women overseas
Liz Maguire, president and CEO of Ipas, and Purnima Mane, president and CEO of Pathfinder International

“…Women and girls who live in countries that have restrictive abortion laws are far less likely than their American sisters to obtain safe abortion care. … Under a little known legal restriction on U.S. foreign aid — led by the conservative Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) in 1973 — funds cannot be used to ‘pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning…’ The language allows exceptions for rape, incest, and life endangerment — but this is not how the policy is implemented. For over 40 years, the Helms Amendment has been applied as a complete ban on abortion care in U.S.-funded global health programs — with no exceptions. This means that Pathfinder and other U.S. government-funded agencies are unable to provide critical abortion care services to those at risk even under circumstances upheld by U.S. law and clearly allowable under the Helms Amendment. … With the stroke of a pen, President Obama can change the outcome for many of these women and start to reverse more than four decades of neglect of their basic human rights and harm to their health. … It is time for President Obama to take action” (11/21).

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