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The Helms Amendment: 47 years of denying reproductive health and rights Social Media Toolkit

Overview and Details

Title of Legislation:

Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act

Handles:

Sponsor:

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL): @janschakowsky

Original cosponsors

  1. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY): @NitaLowey
  2. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA): @RepBarbaraLee
  3. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA): @RepSpeier
  4. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA): @AyannaPressley
  5. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO): @RepDianaDeGette
  6. Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA): @NormaJTorres

Key Messages / Talking Points:

The Helms Amendment forces providers to distinguish between abortion and all other health services, meaning only those with means are able to access essential abortion care.

The Helms Amendment undermines U.S. efforts to improve maternal health and mortality by denying access to abortion services. Restricting access to abortion does not decrease the rate of abortion, it makes it less safe, leading to countless injuries and preventable deaths. Repealing the Helms Amendment will save lives and align U.S. foreign policy with its stated objectives.

Abortion care is time-sensitive and essential healthcare that cannot be significantly delayed without profound consequences on women’s health and well-being. Denying or delaying abortion care places an immediate burden on patients, their families, and the health system.

Racial justice is a reproductive justice issue. Historically and globally, Black and Brown communities have been denied both, due to colonialism, white supremacy, and ideological policies like the Helms Amendment.

The Helms Amendment is a racist, white supremacist, neo-colonial policy that facilitates the United States government control over health care access and bodily autonomy of Black and Brown people around the world.

Hashtags:

Primary:

#RepealHelms

Secondary:

  1. #HelmsHurts
  2. #EndHelms

Social Media Posts:

Twitter

Information on the Helms Amendment

DYK? For 47 years the Helms Amendment has prohibited US funds from being used for “the performance of abortion as a method of family planning.” But, in effect, it has been applied as a total ban on abortion-related services. #RepealHelms www.repealhelms.org

FACT: The Helms Amendment harms Black & Brown people globally. For 47 years it has prohibited US funds from being used for “the performance of abortion as a method of family planning.” But, worse than that, Helms has been interpreted as a total ban on abortion-related services. #RepealHelms #HelmHurts

Harmful fact: The 1973 Helms Amendment prohibits any US funds from going toward #safeabortion services. Helms is an amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act AND has been included in the appropriations bill EVERY year for the past 47 years. It has to go. #RepealHelms #HelmHurts

The Helms Amendment:

👎 Prohibits US funds being used for “the performance of abortion as a method of family planning”

👎 Is a 47-year old US policy that, in effect, bans abortion-related services

👎 Denies millions of people comprehensive #SRH services,

#RepealHelms #HelmHurts

Global Gag Rule vs The Helms Amendment

The Helms Amendment & #GlobalGagRule both harm #SRHR globally BUT they are different:

🔺The #GGR restricts NGOs that receive US $ from using their own money for #safeabortion services.

🔺Helms already prohibits any US $ from going towards #safeabortion services.

#RepealHelms

DYK? The #GlobalGagRule states what foreign NGOs can do with their own money BUT the Helms Amendment already prohibited US funds from going towards #safeabortion services. Helms will continue to prevent access to #SRH services AFTER the #GGR is gone. #RepealHelms #HelmsHurts

Hard fact: The Helms Amendment and #GlobalGagRule together are a double threat to people’s #reprohealth overseas. BOTH have to go before people can access #safeabortion services. #RepealHelms #HelmHurts

Health Equity

The #HelmsAmendment puts #reprohealth freedom out of reach for millions of people around the 🌍. It forces providers to distinguish between abortion & all other health services, meaning only those with means can access essential abortion care. #RepealHelms www.repealhelms.org

Everyone—including people in #LMICs—has a right to the safety & dignity of basic health care including comprehensive #SRH care, access to preventative screenings, testing & care, safe abortion & contraception when they need it. #HealthEquity #RepealHelms www.repealhelms.org

COVID-19

In times of crisis, women and girls are disproportionately affected. During #COVID19, it’s critical that abortion is recognized as an essential health care service. Repealing the Helms Amendment will expand reproductive health care options. #RepealHelms www.repealhelms.org

Racial Justice

Racial justice & reproductive justice issues are intertwined. Historically and globally, Black and brown communities have been denied both, due to colonialism, white supremacy and ideological policies like the Helms amendment. #RepealHelms www.repealhelms.org

The Helms Amendment is a policy rooted in racism that facilitates US control over the health care and bodily autonomy of Black and brown people around the world. #RepealHelms www.repealhelms.org

Racial justice & reproductive justice are intertwined. Simply having the right to health, to bodily autonomy or to abortion isn’t enough. Marginalized communities face economic, cultural, religious & systemic barriers that often keep them from accessing their rights. #RepealHelms

Biden/Harris Administration

The Biden Administration must play a role in improving the #SRHR of people globally. The includes repealing the 47-year-old Helms Amendment that prohibits all US funds from being used on #safeabortion services. It is time to #RepealHelms #HelmsHurts www.repealhelms.org

We know the Biden Administration will rescind the #GlobalGagRule BUT that is only a small step. Since 1973 the Helms Amendment has prohibited US funds from going to #safeabortion services. The Amendment is, in effect, a BAN on abortion. #RepealHelms #HelmsHurts

Rescinding the #GlobalGagRule is only the first step in undoing the damage done to #SRHR over the past 4 years. The Biden admin must go further by repealing the Helms Amendment that prohibits all US funds from being used on #safeabortion services. #RepealHelms

General Helms Messaging

The Helms Amendment hinders millions of individuals around the world from being able to exercise their reproductive rights and deprives them of the care they want and need. #RepealHelms www.repealhelms.org

Annually, there are more than 35 million unsafe abortions worldwide that lead to millions of injuries and tens of thousands of preventable maternal deaths. The Helms amendment exacerbates this crisis. #RepealHelms www.repealhelms.org

The Helms Amendment:

👎 increases maternal mortality & morbidity

👎 disempowers women

👎 undercuts gender equality

👎 suppresses human rights

#RepealHelms www.repealhelms.org

Thank you @RepSchakowsky @NitaLowey @RepDianaDeGette @RepSpeier @RepBarbaraLee @AyannaPressley @NormaJTorres for moving to repeal the Helms Amendment that has harmed communities around the world. Everyone deserves the safety and dignity of basic health care. #RepealHelms

The Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act has secured over 120 cosponsors! A huge thank you to this amazing group of #SRHR Champions for supporting this critical legislation to #RepealHelms! #HelmsHurts http://bit.ly/2KtzaBs

Facebook

The Helms Amendment is harmful:

- It prohibits the use of US funds being used for “the performance of abortion as a method of family planning”

- It is a 47-year old US policy that effectively bans abortion-related services

- It can only be repealed by Congress

- It is the cause of millions of women dying from unsafe abortion because they cannot access #SRH services, including abortion

Global Gag Rule vs The Helms Amendment

Do you know the difference between the Helms Amendment and the Global Gag Rule?

The Global Gag Rule forces organizations that provide information, referrals and services for legal abortion to choose between receiving U.S. global health funds and providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care—at the risk of women's health and lives.

The 1973 Helms Amendment states U.S. foreign assistance funds cannot be used for “the performance of abortion as a method of family planning.” In effect, it is interpreted as a total ban on abortion-related services and information.

COVID-19

There will be gaps in sexual and reproductive health services created by COVID-19 and its effects on health systems. Restrictions imposed on NGOs by U.S. policies such as the Helms Amendment means that these organizations will not be able to address the sexual and reproductive health needs of women, including abortion. www.repealhelms.org

Health Equity

As the largest government funder of global health, including family planning and reproductive health services, the U.S. plays a vital role in improving public health around the world.

The Helms Amendment is a clear and direct impediment to reducing maternal mortality and morbidity, empowering women and promoting gender equality, and upholding human rights.

The U.S. should use its foreign assistance to provide access to quality, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care services for all people, which includes safe, legal and accessible abortion.

It is time to repeal this harmful policy and allow the use of U.S. funds to support safe abortion services worldwide. #RepealHelms www.repealhelms.org

COVID-19

There will be gaps in sexual and reproductive health services created by the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on health systems. Restrictions imposed on NGOs by U.S. policies such as the Helms Amendment means that these organizations will not be able to address the sexual and reproductive health needs of women, including abortion. www.repealhelms.org

Racial Justice

Racial justice and reproductive justice are intertwined. Marginalized communities face economic, cultural, religious and systemic barriers that often keep them from accessing their rights and the care they want, need and deserve.

The Helms Amendment allows the United States to control the health care and bodily autonomy of Black and brown people around the world.

The Helms amendment is a policy rooted in racism and it must fall in order for any vision of healthy equity and reproductive justice to be realized. www.repealhelms.org

General Helms messaging

The Helms Amendment hinders millions of individuals around the world from being able to exercise their reproductive rights and deprives them of the care they want and need. It reduces the availability of safe, legal abortion, denies health care providers lifesaving equipment and training, and has resulted in the unwarranted censoring of critical health information.

Annually, there are more than 35 million unsafe abortions worldwide that lead to millions of injuries and tens of thousands of preventable maternal deaths. The Helms amendment exacerbates this crisis. #RepealHelms www.repealhelms.org

Biden/Administration

The United States is the single largest supporter of family planning and reproductive health assistance programs in the world.

Yet, due to a 47-year-old, ideologically driven US policy called the Helms Amendment, women are being denied abortion care and even basic information and counseling. Because of this policy many women in poor countries cannot access the care they need and are injured or die.

The Biden Administration can begin now to legally champion the use of U.S. funds to help women overseas seeking abortions. And Congress can put lives over politics by repealing the dangerous Helms Amendment.

Graphics/Images/Shareables

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Additional Resources & Information

Publications:

  1. The Ins and Outs of U.S. Abortion-related Restrictions Abroad and at Home (PAI)
  2. Helms Amendment and the Global Gag Rule — What’s the Difference? (PAI)
  3. Time Is Up for the Helms Amendment (PAI)
  4. Report Summary: All Women, All Rights, Sex Workers Included (CHANGE)
  5. New Polling Shows Majority of Voters Favor Overturning Helms. (downloadable PDF) (Ipas)
  6. Key Messages on the Harms of the Helms Amendment and the Case for Repeal (downloadable PDF) (Ipas)
  7. The Harmful Impact of the Helms Amendment on Women in Kenya (downloadable PDF) (Ipas)

Coalition Partners:

  1. Advocates for Youth: @AdvocatesTweets
  2. American Jewish World Service: @ajws
  3. Catholics for Choice: @Catholic4Choice
  4. Center for Reproductive Rights: @ReproRights
  5. CHANGE: @SRHRforAll
  6. Guttmacher: @Guttmacher
  7. ICRW: @ICRW
  8. Ipas: @IpasOrg
  9. IWHC: @IntlWomen
  10. NARAL: @NARAL
  11. PAI: @pai_org
  12. Population Connection Action Fund: @popconnect
  13. Population Institute: @PopInstitute
  14. Planned Parenthood: @ppglobe, @ppact