Dubbed the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act, the bill was introduced last summer but is making a comeback under the Biden administration, which has already restored funding for overseas organizations that promote abortion.
This bill would go beyond Biden’s repeal of the Mexico City policy — which when in place –requires foreign non-governmental organizations to certify that they would not “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning” using funds from any source as a condition of receiving U.S. government global family planning funding. For decades after Roe v. Wade, the U.S. has prohibited overseas abortion funding under the Helms Amendment.
But Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and her colleagues — Reps. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Jackie Speier, D-Calif. — are arguing that the funding should be restored.
“Unsafe abortion is a global health crisis,” tweeted Schakowsky. “@Guttmacher estimates the US could prevent 19 million unsafe abortions a year if it repealed the Helms Amendment.” She pointed to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, which previously functioned as a research arm of Planned Parenthood.
According to Guttmacher, repealing Helms would reduce maternal deaths by 17,000 and “[t]here would be 12 million fewer women each year who have abortion-related complications requiring medical treatment.”
That line of argument was “very deceptive,” according to Stefano Gennarini, who serves as Vice President for the Center of Legal Studies at the conservative Center for Family and Human Rights.
“There is no such thing as a ‘safe abortion,'” he told Fox News. “Every abortion kills a child in the womb and U.S. taxpayers should not be forced to be complicit in this horrific injustice.” He added that it was “extreme” for “Democrats to want to force U.S. taxpayers to fund abortions abroad. And it is arguably a crime against humanity.”
The bill could face an uphill road as polling has indicated the issue is unpopular with voters. A Marist poll, released in conjunction with the Knights of Columbus this year, showed 77% of Americans oppose “using tax dollars to support abortion in other countries.”
The White House did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment but President Biden is already facing a tough battle to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which blocks taxpayer funding for most domestic abortions.
To reach Biden’s desk, those measures would have to make it through a narrow passage in the U.S. Senate, which has a 50-50 split between Democrats and allied Independents on one side, and Republicans on another.
Tuesday’s measure, in comparison to the Hyde Amendment, would presumably have broader implications at the international level. The version of the bill introduced last year includes language suggesting that repealing Helms was a way to meet international obligations.
“As part of their commitment to prevent unsafe abortions and preventable deaths and ensure all people have access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care and can exercise their right to full control over their sexuality and reproduction, developing countries and donor governments must work collaboratively to deploy funding, align policies, and mobilize expertise to make safe abortion services available to those seeking to terminate pregnancies,” it reads.
Gennarini argues, however, that funding abortion abroad “creates a perverse incentive in foreign assistance.”
He added that “[t]here is a real danger that abortion becomes a default response to pregnancy. It is a lot cheaper to abort a child than to take care of a child and his or her mother through pregnancy, childbirth, and into the first years of life.”
Live Action’s Lila Rose similarly told Fox News: “Democrat politicians must stop looking at pregnant women domestically and overseas and thinking the best way to ‘take care of them’ is to starve, poison, and brutally dismember their children … These littlest of global citizens deserve our love and protection.”