Lawmakers introduce legislation to repeal Helms Amendment

Mar 9, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) was among a group of lawmakers who introduced legislation today to repeal a long-standing policy that prohibits the use of U.S. foreign aid to provide safe abortion services around the world. 

The legislation – known as the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act – would repeal a provision in the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act, known as the Helms Amendment, which currently bars the use of U.S. foreign aid to provide abortion care. 

If approved, the legislation would replace the Helms Amendment with language that requires U.S. foreign aid be used to provide comprehensive health services – including safe abortion care – to women around the world

“Abortion care is health care, period,” said DeGette, who serves as co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus. “The Helms Amendment doesn’t reduce the number of abortions performed around the world each year, it reduces the number of safe abortions being performed. Prohibiting the use of U.S. funds to provide safe abortion care in areas where it’s not currently available is needlessly putting the health and well-being of countless women at risk. We need to repeal this archaic policy immediately. And we need to start doing our part to make safe abortion care more accessible to more women around the world.”

First enacted in 1973, the Helms Amendment has prevented U.S. foreign aid funds from being used to fund abortions for nearly 50 years now. 

As a result, millions of women in developing countries continue to be injured, and tens of thousands die, each year as a result of unsafe abortion care provided to them.

A recent study by the Guttmacher Institute found that repealing the Helms Amendment and supporting safe abortion services in the countries where abortion is legal would lead to 19 million fewer unsafe abortions and 17,000 fewer maternal deaths each year.

A copy of the legislation is available here