By Brian Dixon, SVP for Media and Government Relations
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the 20 candidates will be in Detroit, Michigan, for the second round of Democratic primary debates. It’s a good thing that domestic and international reproductive rights are getting so much attention during candidates’ conversations on stage, but their broad statements aren’t enough. That’s why the three policy priorities below are so important to gauge just how serious candidates are about protecting reproductive health and rights around the world.
1. End the Helms Amendment
The Helms Amendment currently bans U.S. foreign assistance funds from being used for abortion as a method of family planning—but it has always been interpreted as an all-out ban, including in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the pregnant person’s health or life.
It’s bad health policy. It’s bad foreign policy. It’s a relic of U.S. anti-abortion politics that is utterly divorced from the reality of the lives of the people it affects.
Helms prevents patients from accessing safe abortion—meaning that they’re more likely to seek unsafe abortions in unsanitary settings and performed by unskilled providers. Repealing the Helms Amendment needs to be a top priority of the next president.
2. Repeal the Global Gag Rule on day one
Trump’s disgraceful Global Gag Rule puts even tighter restrictions on foreign aid by barring international clinics from receiving U.S. funding if they even mention the word abortion. The cruel policy has decreased access to contraceptives and increased unsafe abortions, leaving people in the most vulnerable communities around the world at risk.
It has already wreaked havoc on clinics, patients, and providers around the world, and its deadly impacts will continue to be felt as long as it’s in effect. Everyone on stage over the next two nights needs to commit to repealing the Global Gag Rule on day one.
3. Support a robust investment in U.S. international family planning assistance, and restore funding to UNFPA
For the third year in a row, the Trump administration blocked the U.S. contribution to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which provides critical reproductive health services in more than 150 countries, and is often the only health care provider in humanitarian settings such as refugee camps and emergency clinics post-natural disasters.
Investing in international reproductive health and family planning saves lives, strengthens communities, and builds a better future for all of us. Withholding funding from UNFPA is a direct attack on reproductive freedom, and it threatens global efforts to alleviate poverty, protect the environment, and promote public health. Restoring funding to UNFPA is crucial to building a safer, healthier, sustainable world and must be a priority for the next president.
What can we do to keep this conversation going during and in between the debates? Join us on social media during the Democratic presidential debates on Twitter and during our Global Gag Rule tweet chat on Wednesday, July 31, at 2:00 p.m. ET.