WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus Providers and Clinics Task Force, today introduced the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act. The Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act is the first-ever legislation to repeal the Helms Amendment, a 47-year-old policy rooted in racism that bans the use of any U.S. foreign assistance funds for abortion, putting an arbitrary line between abortion and all other global health services. Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Norma Torres (D-CA) signed on as original co-sponsors.
Rep. Schakowsky announced the new legislation on a virtual press conference with reporters this morning, discussing the Helms Amendment’s harmful history, its burden on global reproductive and economic freedom, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on access to reproductive health care around the world.
In a joint statement with coalition partners, Toni Van Pelt, NOW President issued support with the following:
“NOW is proud to support the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act, which prioritizes the repeal of the Helms Amendment, an oppressive piece of legislation that denies women access to reproductive freedom. While it only bans the use of U.S. aid for abortion care as a method of family planning, every American president since its passing in 1973 has interpreted the ban to also prohibit aid for abortions in the case of rape, incest, and to save a woman’s life. Abortion care is health care and reproductive freedom should be available to ALL women – the United States must play its part in increasing access for women around the world.”
While this is the first introduction of a repeal bill, a broad coalition of global reproductive health and rights advocacy, research, and service delivery organizations has been working to mitigate and address the harms caused by Helms for years. Coalition members include Advocates for Youth, American Jewish World Service, Catholics for Choice, Center for Reproductive Rights, CHANGE (Center for Health and Gender Equity), Guttmacher, International Center for Research on Women, Ipas, International Women’s Health Coalition, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Organization for Women, Open Society Policy Center, PAI, Population Connection Action Fund, Population Institute, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Additionally, the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act is endorsed by more than 110 organizations and quotes from several groups can be found below for inclusion in media coverage. More information can be found at repealhelms.org.