Reproductive rights advocates call on Biden to reduce overseas abortion restrictions


A coalition of more than 140 reproductive rights and healthcare advocates called on President Biden to provide the same bold leadership on abortion that he has shown in other areas such as climate change, jobs and infrastructure.

Coalition of more than 140 reproductive rights and health care advocates calls on President Biden to ease the damage caused by the over-implementation of U.S. restrictions on foreign aid, especially the 50-year-old Helms Amendment , which limited access to and information about abortion abroad.

In the April 29 letter, advocates underscored the direct harm these restrictions cause to women, particularly victims of conflict-related sexual violence, and their violation of the United States’ human rights obligations to ensure gender equality and comprehensive and non-discriminatory health care. Although these restrictions were enacted by Congress, the coalition calls on the Biden administration to reduce their impact and support the efforts currently underway to repeal them, both to fulfill its stated policy of supporting health and human rights. sexual and reproductive rights (SRHR) and to provide the same bold leadership on abortion that it has shown in other areas such as climate change, jobs and infrastructure.

The Helms Amendment limits US foreign aid only to funding abortion as a method of family planning. But recipients of foreign aid, fearful of going against the mandates of the Helms Amendment, interpreted the ban broadly as a total ban on funding for abortion services. Successive administrations have done nothing to clarify the misinterpretation, for example by clarifying that funds can be used for abortions in cases of rape, incest, or life-threatening situations, which is crucial in humanitarian emergencies.

A study by the Guttmacher Institute estimates that repealing US restrictions on foreign aid would lead to 19 million fewer unsafe abortions, 12 million fewer women suffering from abortion-related medical complications and 17,000 maternal deaths in less in the world.

By a margin of 21 points, voters are in favor of overturning the Helms Amendment, of which 58% are men, 52% women, 76% Democrats and 47% independents. (Ipas)

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To clarify the pervasive misperceptions that have had such a devastating impact on the health of women overseas, the coalition – a diverse group including Amnesty International USA, Catholics for Choice and the American Medical Students Association – calls on Biden to take action. positive measures to reduce the scope of discriminatory US foreign aid and to go further in supporting measures to repeal them. Specifically, defenders call on Biden to:

  • clarify that US foreign aid can be used for abortion in cases of rape, incest, and life threatening;
  • issue guidelines to clarify that US foreign aid may be used for abortion information and counseling, as provided for in the Leahy Amendment; and
  • ensure that its new Gender Policy Council focuses on SRHR, in particular removing abortion funding restrictions.

The coalition also urges Biden to support HR 1670, abortion is healthcare law everywhere, sponsored by more than 140 House members, that would permanently repeal the Helms Amendment and remove Helms language from his budget proposal annual.

Coalition advocates urge the Biden administration to take a leadership role in protecting SRHR abroad, both to repudiate the “untold damage to global health systems”, particularly SRHR, caused by the Trump administration and to follow through on Biden’s pledge to regain U.S. leadership internationally. , in particular on human rights.

To underscore that non-discriminatory access to all health care, including abortion, is a fundamental international human right, the coalition calls for more comprehensive action for the recent United States Universal Periodic Review, a review that takes place approximately every five years at the UN Humanity Human Rights Council of each member state’s human rights record.

In March, the Biden administration responded to SDSR recommendations made during the recent US review, including calls from the UK and the Netherlands to repeal the Helms Amendment and mitigate its damage, stressing the revocation in January of the rule and instruction of the world gag order. withdraw from the Geneva Consensus.

To truly lead securing access to SRHR and abortion internationally, the coalition is calling on the Biden administration to do much more. This call is part of a larger 100-day assessment by the Biden administration, such as the “report card” issued by Equity Forward which states what is missing on many topics, including reproduction rights, “c ‘is daring – the kind that goes beyond mending and advancing. Regarding SRHR specifically, Biden has not used the word “abortion” or openly proclaimed his support for abortion or Roe vs. Wade—Bringing Renee Bracey Sherman, executive director of We Testify, to lament that Biden’s “Build Better” campaign slogan is apparently “for everyone except abortion, where we get,” Build the minimum. “

President Biden, a staunch Catholic, may fear that a bolder stance may lead to a retreat from the religious right, which has galvanized a well-organized anti-abortion lobby and successfully carried out the imposition of sweeping and far-reaching restrictions on state and federal abortion during the Trump administration. A firm stand on abortion rights would risk eliciting backlash from such anti-abortion groups, such as the Susan B. Anthony List, whose leader recently warned Democrats support abortion “at their political risks and perils “. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is also considering denying communion to abortion supporters, in part to pressure Biden over abortion.

The coalition is pressuring Biden to protect SRHR and abortion rights internationally using bold and broad leadership, despite potential personal and political backlash, which he has done for almost everyone else. items on its agenda. As midterm elections threaten to undo the narrow Democratic legislative majority, the new conservative majority in the Supreme Court Roe deerWith precarious protections and the recent wave of state-level abortion restrictions severely limiting women’s choices, strong executive leadership to support abortion has never been more crucial. The coalition is hoping Biden will implement just that – a resolute and progressive vision for SRHR, including abortion – rather than continuing to take only interim and piecemeal measures.

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