Should they be elected president, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have both committed to reinterpreting the Helms Amendment, which currently bans women in conflict and developing countries from receiving federal aid funds for an abortion, even if they were raped.
The Huffington Post obtained a video from reproductive rights group Population Connection Action Fund, in which Clinton reaffirms her position on Helms. In a statement provided to HuffPost reporters, Sanders went one step further:
“Sen. Sanders is opposed to the Helms amendment,” said Sanders’ deputy communications director Arianna Jones. “As president, he will sign an executive order to allow for U.S. foreign aid to pay for abortions in the cases of rape, incest or when the life of the woman is at risk. He will also work with Congress to permanently repeal both the Hyde and Helms amendments.”
Both Clinton and Sanders have previously called for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which bans Medicaid funds from being used for abortion except in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of a woman.
The Helms Amendment was passed in response to Roe v. Wade in 1973, and specifically bans foreign assistance funds from being put towards the “performance of abortion as a method of family planning” or to “motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions,” according to the Guttmacher Institute.
In August of 2015, 81 House Democrats cosigned a letter to Barack Obama, urging him to reinterpret the amendment.
“President Obama, you have been a tireless leader and champion for the rights of women and girls, both here in the United States and around the world,” the letter reads. “We urge you to act immediately to end the overly restrictive and extremely harmful implementation of the Helms amendment, and in doing so, to help save the lives of women and girls around the world.”
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