The Abortion Is Health Care Everywhere Act would amend the Foreign Assistance Act to repeal the Helms Amendment and replace it with language explicitly stating that U.S. foreign assistance funds can be used to provide comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion. It’s the first bill of its kind in the nearly 50 years the Helms Amendment has existed.
Since 1973, the Helms Amendment has prohibited the use of U.S. foreign assistance funding for abortion “as a method of family planning.” The language has been interpreted as an outright ban on the use of such funds for abortion under all circumstances, including in cases of rape and incest and when the life of the pregnant person is threatened by the pregnancy.
The Helms Amendment has been rightly criticized as imperialistic, hypocritical (in the United States, there are important exceptions to the ban on federal funding for abortion, whereas there are none with regard to U.S. foreign assistance), and dangerous to the lives of those who will seek unsafe abortions in the absence of access to safe abortion services.
Because the Helms Amendment is part of permanent statute, congressional action is required to repeal it. The Abortion Is Health Care Everywhere Act is the first such bill ever introduced.
House of Representatives
Bill Number: H.R. 1670
Sponsor: Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Co-leads: Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Norma Torres (D-CA), and Marilyn Strickland (D-WA)
Latest Action: 3/9/2021 Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs
The Senate has not yet introduced a companion bill.